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Pet Care: Common Artificial Sweetener Can Be Fatal to Dogs

May 16, 2016 09:15 AM EDT
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Dogs owners has been warned to avoid feeding their "best friends" with chocolate, but the U.S. Food and Drugs Administration notes that all products containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be fatal to dogs.

According to the consumer warning released by FDA, xylitol or also known as sugar alcohol can disrupt insulin production of dogs. Xylitol can quickly be absorbed in the bloodstreams of canines, resulting to rapid release of insulin from the pancreas, which in turn causes extreme decrease in blood sugar levels.

The effect of xylitol ingestion in dogs can occur within 10 to 60 minutes after consumption. If left untreated, it can quickly be life-threatening.

Common symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs include vomiting, followed by apparent sign of loss in blood sugar such as decreased activity, weakness, staggering, incoordination, collapse and seizures.

Xylitol is widely used as sugar substitute for sugar-less gum, but it can also be found in common household products including toothpaste and mouthwash. Other products containing xylitol include breath mints, backed goods, cough syrup and children's and adult's chewable vitamins.

According to the report from CBS News, ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center have recorded more than 3,700 xylitol-related calls in 2014, a huge leap from 82 calls in 2004.

With the sudden increase of xylitol poisoning in dogs, FDA advice owners to always check the labels of the treats and dog foods before feeding it to them. Dog owners should also avoid using toothpaste that is intended for human use for their dogs. Keeping xylitol in high, hard to reach places should also be regularly observed.

If you think that your dog is poisoned with xylitol, immediately take them to a vet or an emergency animal hospital. Dogs that show signs of xylitol poisoning should be closely monitored because hypoglycemia and other serious adverse effects may not occur in some cases for up to 12 to 24 hours.

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