Xylitol: Good for humans, not for your pets

Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in gum, mints, and other candies, can be dangerous for man's best friend
By Jason Spencer | May 15, 2016
Despite how dogs like to eat everything they stick their nose in, some foods should just be kept out of reach entirely. Along with grapes and chocolate, artificial sweeteners are now being added to the list, with a main ingredient in chewing gum being the worst offender of the bunch.

According to Headlines and Global News, the number of reports of dogs being poisoned by Xylitol, a sweetener that is often found in gum, has risen tremendously. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) noted that cases of Xyitol poisoning have risen from 82 in 2004 to over 3,700 in 2014.

While Xylitol is safe for human consumption, a dog's digestive system works in a completely different way.

"In people, xylitol does not stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas," read a statement released by the FDA after getting wind of the increased poisonings. "However, it's different in canines: When dogs eat something containing xylitol, the xylitol is more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, and may result in a potent release of insulin from the pancreas."

People are not outright feeding their dogs sugarless gum, but if you've ever taken Fido for a walk you can attest to how others carelessly discard their chewed gum on the ground instead of a waste bin. It's actions like this that cause Ashley Gallagher of the Friendship Hospital for Animals to send out a warning to dog owners everywhere.

"You just have to be really careful because dogs are nosy little creatures and they are hungry all the time," said Gallagher. "I know my dogs are, and they are just looking for a treat. So you have to really watch them."

Gallagher recommends that if a dog displays signs of Xylitol poisoning, which include vomiting, staggering, a dip in blood sugar, weakness, sluggishness or a decrease in activity, collapse and seizures, it is best to take them to a vet right away. Otherwise the Pet Poison Helpline can be reached at 855-764-7661.

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