Food Safety Month: Uncovering Xylitol
As pet parents, we want to keep our furry companions happy and healthy. However, sometimes, we accidentally expose them to something harmful or even deadly. In recent years, Xylitol, a sugar substitute commonly found in sugar-free gum, candy, and other products, has become a growing concern for pet owners. In this blog, we will explain what Xylitol is, how it affects pets, and provide tips for preventing exposure.
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol commonly used as a sugar substitute because of its sweetness and low glycemic index. It is found in various products such as sugar-free gum, candy, baked goods, and even peanut butter. While it is safe for humans to consume, it can be highly toxic to pets, especially dogs. In dogs, xylitol consumption can rapidly increase insulin levels, leading to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Symptoms of Xylitol poisoning can include vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures, and liver failure.
How does it affect pets?
When dogs ingest Xylitol, their pancreas releases a large amount of insulin in response to the perceived increase in blood sugar. This insulin surge can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar levels, leading to hypoglycemia. Additionally, Xylitol can cause liver failure, which can be fatal. Symptoms of Xylitol poisoning can begin within 15-30 minutes of ingestion and can quickly progress to seizures and even death. Cats are generally not affected by Xylitol poisoning as they do not have a taste for sweets.
Pet owners can prevent potentially lethal Xylitol exposure by carefully reading ingredient labels and avoiding products that contain Xylitol. As Xylitol can be found in various products, it is essential to check labels diligently. Additionally, pet owners should be aware of the symptoms of Xylitol poisoning and contact their veterinarian immediately if they think their pet has ingested a product containing Xylitol. Prompt treatment is essential for the best possible outcome in the event of a suspected poisoning.
What should I do if my pet has ingested Xylitol?
Discovering that your pet has ingested xylitol can be a pet owner’s worst nightmare. The first and most crucial step to take in such a situation is to seek emergency medical care immediately. Xylitol can lead to a rapid release of insulin in your pet’s body, causing a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels, seizures, and even life-threatening liver failure. For after-hours emergencies, it’s essential to know your nearest emergency veterinary care options. In the Columbus, Ohio area, you can turn to MedVet Hilliard, MedVet Worthington, MedVet Diley Hill, the OSU campus location, or VEG (Veterinary Emergency Group) for the prompt and expert assistance your pet urgently needs. Remember, swift action can make all the difference in ensuring your furry friend’s safety and well-being.
In conclusion, Xylitol can be dangerous for pets, particularly dogs. As pet owners, we are responsible for protecting our furry companions from harmful substances. By knowing what Xylitol is, how it affects pets, and taking preventative measures like reading labels and being aware of symptoms, we can ensure our pets stay healthy and live long, happy lives. Contact us if you believe your pet has consumed Xylitol, and take them to the nearest animal hospital.