We cannot keep our dogs in bubble wrap forever, we have to let them run around, be themselves, be happy, take (hopefully calculated) risks and let them breathe.
If you and your dog have ever worked with me you’ll know I like to train our dogs so they have tools to sometimes make up their own decisions.
However, as we are in charge of their welfare and environment, there are a few steps all dog owners should take to protect our friends, and one of them is to make sure that they cannot be in contact with harmful substances. Unlike Cats who would naturally be more cautious with what they decide to eat, some dogs would just eat anything they can put their teeth on.
We all now about cleaning products, medications, and the list of human food that dogs cannot have is well documented online too. There is another harmful substance that can be found in many everyday products; xylitol.
Discovered in Germany in the early 1890s, xylitol is found in some fruit and vegetables’ fibre. Xylitol has become more and more popular in the recent years, as it, 1) causes little insulin release in humans, 2) it stops bacteria to produce acids that damage the surface of teeth and 3) contain fewer calories than sugar.
Hence why we now find xylitol in most diet type foods, chewing gums, mouthwash, toothpastes, etc. So these items are everywhere, in our homes, our friends’ homes, our cars, handbags, etc.
Some animals will not be negatively affected by xylitol: humans, horses, and others will be fine. However, for dogs, cats, rabbits and others it can have dramatic effects. The huge increase of insulin in the pancreas, followed by a drop in blood sugar is the basis for xylitol toxicity. With higher dosage, it can also start terrible liver destruction as large number of cells suddenly die.
Vomiting (often the first symptom)
Collapse and sometimes sadly death…
The dose of xylitol considered to be toxic for dogs is 0.1 gram or more of xylitol per kg of the dog’s body weight. So if you think your dog has ingested a dangerous amount of Xylitol, you must act fast. If you can induce vomiting before the xylitol leaves the stomach (within about 30 mins) you might have sorted the problem. I would still check with your vet though, just to be safe.
However, if it’s already too late for that, you must contact and get to your nearest vet as quickly as possible so they can try to counteract the effects of your dog’s hypoglycaemia and liver damage.
Your dog might have to be hospitalised and in some cases, blood transfusions are needed too. As a side note, dog blood donors are needed so find out where your dog can donate blood?
If you catch your dog eating xylitol, or if you come home to realise your dog has gone through your handbag, found and eaten your gums, or diet bar, get your dog to the emergency vet immediately. There is no time to loose. Do not wait and see how he’ll feel in an hour, just go! And if you can, do bring the wrapper or the content of the food your dog just eaten with you so the vet can have as many information as possible.
Depending on how quickly you’ve managed to act and how much the dog has consumed will decide on his fate.
I mean, clearly best not to take any risks. Check the labels in the products around your house, your bathroom, the gums in your bag, the peanut butter in your cupboard, etc.
America does seem to use more xylitol than we do in the UK, but its presence is increasing, so don’t take any products for granted.
Products that might contain Xylitol include
Sugar free mints
Peanut butter & jam
Sugar-free food & diet products (cookies, cakes, etc.)
Fruit juices and fruity drinks
Be aware that some products will only state the content in their products with words such as “artificial sweetener”. If that’s the case you should assume it is xylitol.
If you must have these products in your home, make sure to keep them safe and well away from your dog. If you have a particularly smart dog who can find food in the most difficult to reach places, please try to outsmart him (if you can).
Train your kids, and other adults in the house, so everyone is well aware of the danger. When visiting friends too, check around.