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Sweet Tooth?

Sweet Tooth?  

We all love things that are sweet, right? Sometimes our dogs do too. But be careful…what might be tasty for us can be toxic to Man’s Best Friend…

In particular, the artificial sweetener xylitol is a bane of a veterinarian’s sanity. This low calorie sugar substitute, while yummy for us, can wreak havoc in Fido. And xylitol is becoming more popular, being used in a variety of products. Nowadays it can be found in not only sugarless gum, but baked goods, oral care products, sugar-free candies, medications, gummy vitamins, some deodorants and lotions, condiments, and even some peanut butters! Especially if it is a sugar-free product, check the label carefully. If it says xylitol, then it is not appropriate for your dog.

So how can one little ingredient be so bad? Well my friends, xylitol does two things. First, it causes a dramatic insulin release, dropping your dog’s blood sugar precipitously…and as fast as within 10-15 minutes of ingestion. What does that look like? Well, that means that Fido becomes depressed (no, your dog doesn’t need a mood stabilizer, we mean very lethargic), weak, wobbly, and can potentially develop seizures.

And if that isn’t enough, when ingested in higher amounts, xylitol can totally mess up your dog’s liver. While we don’t know the exact mechanism of how xylitol manages this feat, it can be devastating, leading to liver failure. Liver damage can start as early as 9-12 hours after ingestion, or can be delayed up to 72 hours.

So unfortunately, things happen. If you realize that your dog may have ingested xylitol, it’s time to get to the veterinarian. It is also an excellent idea to contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435, which is always open. Each case is different, but usually if your dog ate the offending sweetener within the last few hours, we will likely try to get him to vomit. Blood sugars will need to checked and monitored, and if low, treated. Just because a dog doesn’t develop low blood sugars, doesn’t mean that he won’t get the liver issue later on. Your veterinarian may recommend checking Fido’s liver values daily for up to 3 days. Depending on the severity, hospitalization may be recommended.

So you may ask, there’s got to be an antidote for this right? Nope…unfortunately there is no antidote – the best way to treat this issue is prevention…so make sure you check that label!

Author: Dr. Meryl Gupta

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