Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Sugar Substitute That is Toxic to Pets

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is used as a substitute for sugar in many candies and gums. There are others out there of course so to KNOW for sure, you must read the packaging. 

This compound is potentially deadly - yes DEADLY - to your pet should they ingest it. The scary thing is that it doesn't necessarily take a lot and it's not necessarily that a large dog can eat "x" amount and be ok, while a small dog can't. It does not appear dose dependent at all!

What is seen is mainly a drop in blood sugar to dangerously low levels and in some animals, acute liver failure. Some animals have survived but others have died from eating just a few Tic-Tacs or getting into some chewing gum.

I have had a few clients come in for either a routine visit or another problem altogether and non-chalantly mention that "the other day my dog was bad..yeah she ate some of the gum I had laying on the coffee table."

Then I have to explain to them how serious this can be and NOW we need to get some bloodwork and very likely some follow up bloodwork in a few days.  For animals that are affected clinically, they need to be hospitalized and given supportive care (IV fluids, dextrose, liver support supplements, etc).

The worst thing about this is that there seems to be a lack of awareness among most pet owners on the dangers of this product.  

Now we are also facing an issue because this has been used in some liquid human (and  especially children's) medication formulations. It IS a great product and diabetics and dentists alike love it. It doesn't have these detrimental effects on humans. But sometimes, as vets, we have to prescribe a human formulation and in many cases, the liquid version may be easier to dose, especially for our smaller patients. Be aware of this and always check the labels of any products you are giving your dog that have come from a human pharmacy.  

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