Xylitol can KILL dogs!
Xylitol is a common artificial sweetener found in human food and snacks. It's also known as a "sugar substitute" and is commonly found in "sugar-free" human treats such as candies, cookies, cakes, drinks, and more.
While xylitol is tolerated by humans, it is EXTREMELY TOXIC to dogs. Some articles I've come across mentioned it can be "tolerated by dogs in small amounts" but I strongly, strongly, STRONGLY disagree with that sentence.
0.5grams of Xylitol doesn't sound like much, but it could potentially cause serious damage in a small dog. How would anyone know how much artificial sweetener is found in one cookie, or a slice of cake? Why take the risk? Here's a breakdown:
I'm writing this article because a friend of mine recently kept a pack of sugar-free candy within reach of her dog. While she was out, he got to it, consumed a few, and even though he was rushed to the vet as soon as she got home, sadly, he did not make it. She had no idea about the harmful effects xylitol has on dogs (and believe me, she loves her dog dearly), which made me realize that maybe a lot of dog parents may not be aware of it too.
We all know sugar isn't good for our dogs (it isn't good for us either, but that's another story for another day) but PLEASE DO NOT purchase sugar-free human grade treats for your dogs without reading the ingredients list first. I know "sugar-free" sounds good, but it might not be so.
Here's some tips on what you can do:
1. Check whether the treats you are purchasing contains Xylitol, or anything that is referred to as "Natural Sweetener".
(Other sweeteners such as Sorbitol and Aspartame are said to be non-toxic although large amounts can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and/or gas. I haven't found enough information to conclude what is the definition of 'large amount'. Let's just say, since these sweeteners have zero benefits, there really isn't much point consuming them)
2. One rule I always follow is: if I don't understand an ingredient or it sounds like a chemical and Google isn't giving me a clear enough answer, I don't buy it. There are MANY other treats out there that are 100% dog-safe. Why take the risk?
3. If you have no choice and have to choose between a treat with artificial sweetener OR sugar for your dog, GO WITH SUGAR. It's bad, but it WON'T KILL YOUR DOG. Although I don't know why anyone would ever have to make such a decision.
Here's what to do if you suspect that your dog has ingested Xylitol:
Rush him/her to the vet. Xylitol causes a sudden release of insulin which results in hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). Your dog will show signs of lethargy, or may begin to vomit within 30 minutes of consuming something containing Xylitol. RUSH HIM/HER TO THE VET IMMEDIATELY. If left untreated, it will be FATAL.
If you commonly consume sugar-free/foods that contain Xylitol at home, be sure to keep it out of reach of your dog. Hide it in a cupboard, way, way, beyond their reach. Dogs are curious (and greedy!) and will want a taste of anything you put within them. It's our responsibility as pet parents to keep them safe!