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No Sugar Coating: Products Sweetened with Xylitol Can Be Toxic to Dogs

(Urbana, IL) August 21, 2006 - The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center cautions animal owners that xylitol, a sweetener found in certain sugar-free chewing gums, candies, baked goods and other products can potentially cause serious and even life-threatening problems for pets.

“Last year, we managed more than 170 cases involving xylitol-containing products,” says Dana Farbman, CVT and spokesperson for the Center. “This is a significant increase from 2004, when we managed about 70.” Barely halfway into 2006, the Center has already managed about 114 cases. Why the increase? “It’s difficult to say,” Farbman states. “Xylitol products are relatively new to the United States marketplace, so one possibility may be an increase in availability.”

According to Dr. Eric Dunayer, veterinarian and toxicologist for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, dogs ingesting significant amounts of items sweetened with xylitol could develop a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, loss of coordination and seizures. “These signs can develop quite rapidly, at times less than 30 minutes after ingestion of the product. Therefore, it is crucial that pet owners seek veterinary treatment immediately.” Dr. Dunayer also stated that there appears to be a strong link between xylitol ingestions and the development of liver failure in dogs.


While it was previously thought that only large concentrations of xylitol could result in problems, this appears to no longer be the case. “We seem to be learning new information with each subsequent case we manage,” says Dr. Dunayer. “Our concern used to be mainly with products that contain xylitol as one of the first ingredients. However, we have begun to see problems developing from ingestions of products with lesser amounts of this sweetener.” He also says that with smaller concentrations of xylitol, the onset of clinical signs could be delayed as much as 12 hours after ingestion. “Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that even if your pet does not develop signs right away, it does not mean that problems won’t develop later on.”

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center strongly urges pet owners to be especially diligent in keeping candy, gum or other foods containing xylitol out of the reach of pets. As with any potentially toxic substance, should accidental exposures occur, it is important to contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for immediate assistance. [/b]
 

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Thanks Betsy for this important news. I'm not real familiar with xylitol-has this replaced the sorbitol that was in "diabetic" candies, etc? It would be interesting and of value to have a list of products or product types where xylitol is found.
 

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gah, xylitol. :blink:

a lot people also have problems with it, including me. apparently, we are unable to digest it, and really quite frightening (if you happen to be in public) things can happen. really, you don't need to know more.

:ph34r:

Barbara, Xylitol has been around for several years. it was being advertised as a safe alternative to other artificial sweeteners (although i think it has some calories). i suspect it never took off because too many people have problems with it.

:ph34r:

i have the same reaction to sugar alcohols.

in any case, this doesn't really surprise me. i'm not sure i think it's good for people, much less dogs.

i've seen it mostly in candy and gums, although i think i've also seen it in ice creams.
 

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Oh, Linda! The stories I could tell about Xylitol and the other sugar alcohols, (let's just say that the side effects forced me to run frantically out of the middle of a job interview). Thanks for the info, Betsy, after my own personal experience with this stuff I would never have it in the house, but I've passed the information on to my dog friends.
 

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scary, isn't it? i've been lucky enough NOT to be home --- or to be very close to home --- when the Revenge of Xylitol strikes. only thing worse is the consequences of enjoying a sugar free malt. ::shudder::
 
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