WASHINGTON (WHTM) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning that a sugar substitute found in some foods and dental products can be poisonous to dogs.
Over the past several years, the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine has received several reports of dogs being poisoned by xylitol.
The sugar substitute is often used to sweeten sugar-free candy such as mints and chocolate bars, as well as sugar-free chewing gum.
Other products that may contain xylitol include breath mints, baked goods, cough syrup, children’s and adult chewable vitamins, mouthwash, toothpaste, some peanut and nut butters, over-the-counter medicines, dietary supplements, and “skinny” ice cream.
Some baked goods sold in stores contain the sweetener, and people can buy xylitol in bulk for baking at home.
FDA veterinarian Martine Hartogensis explained that when dogs eat something containing xylitol, the sweetener is more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and may result in a potent release of insulin from the pancreas.
Hartogensis said the rapid release of insulin may result in a rapid and profound decrease in the level of blood sugar, an effect that can occur within 10 to 60 minutes. Untreated, the effect can quickly be life-threatening.
Symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs include vomiting followed by symptoms associated with the sudden lowering of your dog’s blood sugar, such as decreased activity, weakness, staggering, incoordination, collapse and seizures.
If you think your dog has eaten xylitol, Hartogensis said you should take it to a vet or an emergency animal hospital immediately.
Xylitol does not seem to be as dangerous for cats and other pets.