Did you know that leaving your purse out in the open for your dog to rummage through could be deadly? Sounds scary we know, but if you eat sugar-free gum, you have to take it very seriously.
Accidental dog poisoning is on the rise in the US – the culprit? A little-known substance called xylitol.
Renowned for being sweet, but low in calorie, xylitol is a widely used sugar substitute. It’s commonly found in “sugar free” snacks and candy. As popular as it is, it’s absolutely deadly to dogs.
A study conducted by Preventive Vet revealed that over half the respondents owning dogs weren’t aware of what xylitol is, or just how poisonous it is for their pets.
Read on to find out important information about xylitol that could prove to be lethal for our canine friends.
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WHAT IS XYLITOL?
Xylitol is seemingly a harmless white powder that looks like regular sugar and is naturally found in many kinds of foods like plums, berries, corn, lettuce, mushrooms, etc.
For commercial use, it is extracted from birch trees, corn fiber and other vegetable material.
Owing to its low glycemic index (containing less calories than sugar) and dental plaque fighting abilities, xylitol has gained much popularity.
WHERE IS XYLITOL USED?
Xylitol is widely used in breath mints, sugar-free gums, baked goods, chewable vitamins and supplements, toothpaste, mouthwash, cough syrup. It’s even used in over-the-counter medications like laxatives, pain relievers, nasal sprays, etc. Therefore, it is likely that substances with xylitol are within easy reach.
WHY IS XYLITOL POISONOUS FOR DOGS?
While xylitol is safe for humans, the same cannot be said for dogs. This is because in humans, sugar releases insulin from the pancreas that regulates the level of blood sugar. When we have xylitol, this process does not occur.
But when dogs consume products containing xylitol, their body releases insulin, resulting in a quick decrease of blood sugar level. This leads to a condition called hypoglycemia. Its effects take between 10 and 60 minutes to set in and can result in life-threatening situations.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF POISONING FROM XYLITOL?
The symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs include vomiting, weakness, staggering, seizures, coma and even death. What’s worse is that it doesn’t take much to result in hypoglycemia in dogs. As little as 0.1 gram per kilogram of body weight can trigger hypoglycemia and only 0.5g/kg can cause liver failure.
The most common source of xylitol poisoning in dogs is sugar-free gum. The following image shows a comparison between the minimum amount of dark chocolates and xylitol that can be poisonous for dogs.
HOW TO TREAT XYLITOL POISONING IN DOGS?
If a dog is suspected of having taken any substance containing xylitol, the owner should immediately call the local vet. The dog should not be induced to vomit or swallow anything unless specifically advised by a professional.
Treatment includes hospitalization and intravenous glucose to normalize the blood sugar level. The dog may need to stay in the hospital for more than a day, depending on the extent of xylitol poisoning. During the stay, blood work would be monitored to ensure proper level of blood sugar and normal functioning of the liver.
PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE
By following some simple rules, xylitol poisoning in dogs can be prevented.
⇒ 1. Keep your bag or purse containing sugar-free gum or medicines out of reach of your dog. Instead of keeping them on the floor, the kitchen counter or on a table, hang your bag from a firm hook – where your dog CAN’T access it.
⇒ 2. If you bake sugar-free foods, store your ingredients in a closed cabinet or a drawer.
⇒ 3. Use only pet-friendly toothpaste for your dog that will not contain xylitol.
⇒ 4. When taking your dog out on a walk, maintain a tight leash to prevent it from scavenging off the ground.
⇒ 5. When you buy foods from the market, check the label for the ingredients.
⇒ 6. Always check for xylitol if you are offering a human treat to your pet.
Do you have any tips on how to prevent your dog from accessing substances containing xylitol? Please share with us in the Comments section below!
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