Sugar Substitute Is Good For Your Diet, But Deadly For Dogs

It's hard to resist those adoreable eyes, but giving hidden sugar substitutes can cause major health problems for man's best friend

Sugar Substitute May be Good for Your Diet, but Deadly for Your Dog
Image: Pixabay
September 4, 2018

Using sugar-free sweeteners might be an effective way to cut sugar from your diet, but they can be a danger to your dog. In particular, xylitol is hazardous in even small amounts and can have lethal effects when eatten by a dog.

Dangers of xylitol

Xylitol is a substance that is especially toxic to dogs because it can cause an insulin release that leads to lowered blood sugar levels, which can eventually cause liver damage.

Warning Signs of xylitol Toxicity

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the first symptom of xylitol poisoning is vomiting. Symptoms of lowered blood sugar will follow, including decreased activity, weakness, staggering, incoordination, collapse, and seizures. Hypoglycemia and other serious effects of xylitol poisoning may not show up for 12 to 24 hours.

How much xylitol is toxic?

Xylitol is said to be 100 times more toxic for dogs that chocolate and only 50 milligrams per pound of body weight is enough to make your dog sick. For perspective, that means only one or two pieces of gum is enough to make a small dog sick.

Where is xylitol Found?

The sugar-free ingredient is commonly found in sugarless gum, but it's used in other products, which may or may not be sold as sugar-free. xylitol is also found in breath mints, baked goods, cough syrup, chewable vitamins, mouthwash and toothpaste. A growing number of peanut butter brands are making the switch from sugar to xylitol, so pet owners should check the ingredients before sharing a spoonful of peanut butter with a pet.

Take Extra Precautions

Dog parents should take extra care when storing a product that includes xylitol. These foods should be stored in high cabinets or shelves, well out of reach of any nosey animal trying to find a quick snack. Precautions should be made for even the most well-behaved pets.

Contact a vet immediately

If you believe your dog has ingested a food containing xylitol, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Xylitol and cats

Helped by their finicky food preferences, cats seem to have gotten a pass on this one. The FDA says that the toxicity of xylitol in cats hasn't been determined.