If you eat sugar-free chewing gum, candy, or cookies/brownies/cakes marketed as sugarless, chances are you’ve got xylitol in your purse or kitchen pantry. Xylitol is a sugar-like substance that is widely categorized as a carbohydrate on food labels. This white crystal material, which appears and tastes like sugar, has been approved as a safe food additive for human consumption. In fact, xylitol is said to be the best sweetener for human teeth since it is not only natural, safe, and convenient, but effective in preventing tooth decay.
Nevertheless, while this tasty nourishing substance is acceptable for humans, it is lethal for dogs. We believe it's especially important to be hyper-vigilant during Halloween and approaching Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
When dogs ingest xylitol, it becomes a sugar alcohol that results in a remarkable spike in their blood sugar levels. The ensuing insulin rush in dogs leads to a very dangerous drop of their glucose levels, triggering symptoms such as lethargy, weakness, loss of coordination, collapse, and even seizures. Because these alarming symptoms can occur within just 30 minutes of ingestion, it is important that you immediately bring your pet to the vet for emergency treatment. If the dog survives for long, xylitol consumption can also result in liver damage within only 24 hours. Xylitol poisoning is proven to be deadly to a 65-pound dog with just three grams of the substance. Depending on the brand, this particular amount can be found in eight to ten sticks of chewing gum. Of course, with this basic estimate in mind, only a smaller amount of xylitol, maybe a couple of gum sticks, can easily claim the life of a small to average-sized toy breed.
How to Keep your Pooch from Getting Poisoned
1. Because of the benefits that xylitol offers to people, a rising number of “sugar-free” human foodstuffs are being manufactured with it. For this reason, you have to be diligent when it comes to reading food labels.
2. Play it safe and never share even just a bit of your grub with sugar substitute with Fido. Also, always see to it that you keep your sugar-free candies, gums, mints, chewable vitamins, and throat lozenges in dog-proof containers.
3. Remember that dogs naturally possess a sweet-tooth. They can easily sniff out, find, and get into sweet foods, so stay alert as your pooch can be a brilliant “pickpocket”.
4. Keep food items stored out of and beyond your dog’s reach. You’ll also need to stay cautious when you visit other people’s homes or have guests at home. An unsuspecting guest may set her purse on the floor, not realizing your dog can sniff out her sugarless gum and help himself to it!
Here's to a safe and sane Holiday season.