The Food and Drug Administration does a lot to try to keep humans healthy, but they have man’s best friend’s back covered as well. The government organization recently reasserted its warning for items pet owners should beware of including the sweetener xylitol, commonly found in gum but also found in some peanut butters and toothpastes, as it can have “devastating effects” on dogs.
In a recent consumer update entitled “Xylitol and Your Dog: Danger, Paws Off,” the FDA warned, “Over the past several years, the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received several reports—many of which pertained to chewing gum—of dogs being poisoned by xylitol.” The lower calorie sweetener can also be found in all sorts of other products including candy, chocolate, mints, baked goods, cough syrup, chewable vitamins and mouthwash. Importantly, it’s also occasionally found in some nut butters, a food some dog owners might give their pooches as a treat or to get them to eat pills. Also, it’s found in human toothpaste, meaning you should only clean your dog’s teeth with dog toothpaste.
According to the FDA, xylitol “may result in a rapid and profound decrease in the level of blood sugar” which can “be life-threatening.” Symptoms, which include “decreased activity, weakness, staggering, incoordination, collapse and seizures,” can take as long as 24 hours to be seen, so the FDA advises monitoring your dog if you believe he has consumed xylitol.
Good news for cat owners, though: “The toxicity of xylitol for cats has not been documented. They appear to be spared, at least in part, by their disdain for sweets,” says the FDA. Man, everything is easier with cats. Minus that whole “getting them to love you” thing.