7 Doggy Dangerous (and Surprising) Things That Contain Xylitol
You don’t have to be a dog owner to know that chocolate is bad for dogs – you may also know to avoid things like coffee, grapes, and onions. But there are a number of things that can poison your dog you may not be aware of – xylitol is one of them. Keep reading to learn more about what xylitol is and why it is dangerous as well as seven surprising things that contain this deadly chemical.
What is Xylitol and Why is it Bad?
Over the past decade or so, low-sugar and sugar-free foods have become increasingly popular – particularly for people trying to lose weight. But many people don’t realize that so-called sugar-free foods may not contain sugar, but they still contain sweeteners – sugar alcohols are a good example.
Related: What to Do if Your Dog is Poisoned
Sugar alcohols are a type of artificial sweetener created by combining sugar molecules with alcohol molecules. Xylitol is a type of sugar alcohol that has the same sweetness as regular white sugar, but 40% fewer calories. It also has a low glycemic index and doesn’t cause severe blood sugar spikes like sugar.
Though xylitol can actually provide some health benefits for humans (such as killing bad bacteria in the mouth and preventing yeast infections), it is extremely dangerous for dogs. When a human ingests xylitol, the body is able to absorb it slowly enough that it doesn’t have a serious impact on blood sugar levels.
In dogs, however, the body mistakes the sugar alcohol for regular sugar and starts producing large amounts of insulin to process it. As a result, the dog’s cells begin to rapidly absorb glucose from the bloodstream but, because the xylitol isn’t actually glucose, it leads to severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and that can prove fatal. High doses of xylitol have also been shown to cause liver failure in dogs. It only takes about 0.1g/kg of bodyweight for a dog to be affected by xylitol.
What Are Some Surprising Things That Contain Xylitol?
Because xylitol contains 40% fewer calories than sugar, you can find it in many low-sugar foods intended for human consumption. You should always exercise extreme caution before feeding your dog anything that isn’t specifically designed for dogs, but you should also try to avoid keeping things in the house that contain dangerous substances – substances like xylitol.
Some of the xylitol-containing foods you should avoid include:
- Chewing gum (especially sugar-free gum)
- Calorie-reduced peanut butter
- Dental health products (like mouthwash and toothpaste)
- Gummy vitamins
- Liquid medications
- Body lotion
Always check the label and keep potentially dangerous items out of your dog’s reach.
Your dog doesn’t know what things are good for him and what things are bad – he just knows that food is food, and he wants to eat it. It is your job, then, to protect him from foods that could be harmful – especially foods that contain xylitol. Do yourself and your dog a favor by educating yourself about the dangers of this substance and don’t keep anything that contains xylitol in your house for safety.
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.
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