By Arden Moore
America’s Pet Health and Safety Coach
One of the most popular options to occupy a dog’s time (and mind) while home alone is to offer him a Kong or another dog chew toy slathered with peanut butter.
However, in this age of Keto diets – and with the rise of people diagnosed with diabetes, more popular foods and products are being offered in sugar-free forms. Specifically, these foods contain xylitol. This safe sweetener for people is finding its way into an ever-expanding array of foods and health products. Xylitol can be found in sugar-free yogurts, chewing gum, mints, toothpastes, mouthwashes, cough drops, sugar-free desserts, peanut butter, jams, jellies and even some human medications.
However, xylitol is toxic to dogs. When a dog eats peanut butter containing xylitol, for example, his blood sugar levels plummet and damage to the liver begins immediately. The xylitol causes a dog to vomit, have trouble walking, lose muscle control and worse. Some dogs can experience seizures, liver failure and even death.
In fact, veterinarians report that the side effects from a dog ingesting something containing xylitol is 100 times more severe than eating dark chocolate that contains another canine threat: theobromine.
Sadly, xylitol poisoning calls to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center continue to escalate. In 2005, 201 xylitol-related calls were documented, but in 2021, that number exceeded 6,000.
More pet parents recognize that xylitol is bad for their dogs but may not realize that it is showing up in sugar-free peanut butter. Making matters worse, some product manufacturers simply do not include xylitol in the list of ingredients. Or, they label this artificial sweetener as birch sugar on the package.
If your dog ingests something containing xylitol, act quickly. Contact your nearest veterinary clinic or the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline for advice at 888 426-4435. This hotline is staffed 24-7 by board-certified veterinary toxicologists. Remember, every minute counts.
Attached is an informative graphic on the toxicity of xylitol-filled peanut butter created by the ASPCA Pet Health Insurance. Please share this with your pet pals and pet professionals and work together to keep our dogs safe.
Arden Moore is the Pet Health and Safety Coach. She is the founder of Pet First Aid 4U, the creator of the instructors’ program for Pro Pet Hero, the host of the award-winning Oh Behave Show on Pet Life Radio and The Four Legged Life show. Learn more at www.ardenmoore.com.