Chocolate and plants are not the only subtances that are toxic to your pets. Xylitol, which is found in “sugar free” products such as gum, toothpastes, mouthwash, certain cough medicines, baked goods, and candies, is toxic to dogs. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as an artificial sweetener which is naturally made from birch, raspberries, corn and plums. Although the products that we consume with xylitol are safe for us, they are extremely dangerous for your dog. The effects of xylitol can be severe and signs may appear in fewer than 30 minutes. The consumption of any amount of the product causes rapid release of insulin in dogs which causes a sudden profound hypoglycemia (dangerous drop in blood sugar). Signs of hypoglycemia include vomiting, weakness, lethargy, collapse and sometimes seizures.
Cases of xylitol poisoning have substantially increased due to the rise of xylitol in human foods. Keep in mind that our food is not meant for our pets. If you often purchase food or gum labeled “sugar free,” be sure to keep it out of reach where your pet can’t access it. If you suspect that your dog has ingested a product that might contain xylitol, call your veterinarian immediately.