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08-25-2006, 09:00 AM
Pet Poison Safety: Products Sweetened with Xylitol Can Be Toxic To Dogs
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) has issued a warning to pet owners that xylitol, a sweetener found in many sugar-free products, can cause serious problems for companion canines.

“Last year, we managed more than 170 cases involving xylitol,” says the APCC’s Dana Farbman, CVT. “This is a significant increase from 2004, when we managed about 70.” And in the first half of 2006, toxicologists have already handled 114 cases. “It’s difficult to say why there’s such an increase,” says Farbman. “Xylitol products are relatively new to the United States marketplace, so one possibility may be an increase in availability.”

Dogs ingesting significant amounts of items sweetened with xylitol could develop a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, loss of coordination and seizures. Signs can develop quite rapidly, sometimes less than half an hour after ingestion.

It was previously thought that only large concentrations of xylitol resulted in problems—but new data is beginning to disprove this. “We seem to be learning new information with each case we manage,” says APCC veterinary toxicologist Dr. Eric Dunayer. “We also have begun to see problems developing from ingestions of products with lesser amounts of this sweetener.”

APCC experts urge pet owners to keep candy, gum and other foods containing xylitol out of their animals’ reach. If you suspect that your pet has ingested products sweetened with xylitol—or any other potentially dangerous substance—call your veterinarian or the APCC's emergency hotline at (888) 426-4435 for round-the-clock telephone assistance. For more pet poison prevention tips, please visit APCC online.