Understanding Your Pet's Needs
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Understanding Your Pet's Needs

After my pet had a long, drawn-out battle with cancer, I realized that I needed to do a better job with understanding my pet's needs. I wanted to be there for them no matter what, so I started focusing on my other animals. They needed more love, attention, and medical care, so I focused on those things. I started taking them in for regular checkups and working on their physical appearance. I was able to spot a few other potentially catastrophic health conditions with my animals because of my actions. This blog is all about understanding your pet's needs.


Understanding Your Pet's Needs

Xylitol May Have Health Benefits For You, But For Your Dog, It Can Be Poison

Gisele Pereira

Are you someone who chews sugar-free gum or uses sugar substitutes to reduce the harmful effects of consuming sugar? Check the information on the package. If the sweetener is xylitol, be sure to keep it away from your dog, as it can be lethal. Keep your furry friend safe by educating yourself about this dangerous substance.

What Is Xylitol?

Xylitol is an all-natural sugar substitute used to reduce the harmful effects of sugar in various products. It is made from beets, birch tree bark and other natural sources. It has been used extensively in Europe since World War II, and has become more and more popular in the United States over the past 2 decades. It is frequently used in sugar-free gum, candy, toothpaste and other products.

What Are Its Health Benefits?

Replacing sugar with xylitol reduces your calorie intake. Xylitol also does not cause a spike in blood sugar levels, which is important for people with diabetes. Xylitol has been shown to reduce bacterial growth and can help prevent upper respiratory and ear infections. Perhaps its biggest health benefit is for oral care. Its bacteria-inhibiting properties and ability to reduce dry mouth can significantly reduce the formation of dental cavities in children and adults.

What Products Contain Xylitol?

Because of the harmful effects to dogs, it's important to know which products contain xylitol. The most common use of xylitol is in sugar-free gums and candies. It is found in some sugar-free baked goods, gelatins, puddings and peanut butter and in many toothpastes and oral rinses. It can also be found in some over-the-counter drugs such as throat lozenges and sprays as well as some chewable vitamins. It is also sold in bulk for use in baking.

Why Is Xylitol Harmful to Dogs?

In canines, unlike humans, xylitol causes a rapid release of insulin into the blood stream. The insulin causes a significant drop in blood sugar levels, resulting in hypoglycemia. Signs of hypoglycemia can occur within minutes of ingesting xylitol and include weakness, incoordination, vomiting, seizures and coma. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can lead to liver failure and death.

What Should I do if my Dog Has Eaten Xylitol?

If you suspect your dog has eaten a product containing xylitol or notice any of the above symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately. Do not induce vomiting, as it may exacerbate the hypoglycemia.  Your veterinarian will likely administer glucose to reverse the hypoglycemia and IV fluids for support. With immediate treatment, your pup stands a good chance of recovery.

What Can I Do to Prevent Xylitol Poisoning?

Always read the labels on products before giving them to your furry friend. For example, if you give your dog peanut butter as a treat, make sure it doesn't contain xylitol. Never leave a packet of sugar-free gum or candy lying around where your dog can find it. Dogs will often eat anything they find, and in the case of xylitol, can lead to life-threatening consequences.

For more information, contact Lamb's Gap Animal Hospital or a similar location.