Veterinarians warn sweetener Xylitol is growing risk to dogs

Veterinarians warn sweetener Xylitol is growing risk to dogs

Madison College veterinarians are warning dog owners of the dangers of Xylitol as more products are being made with the artificial sweetener.

Playing with her dogs has a new meaning for Ann Steck after one of them almost died after eating gum found in her purse.

“We found our dog really lethargic, really sleepy, he (her husband) took him to the vet immediately and they said if we hadn’t brought him in, that he would’ve died in a couple of hours,” Steck said.

At first, Steck thought it wasn’t a big deal that her dog had eaten gum, but after her husband researched the effects of the ingredient Xylitol, they immediately took 6-year-old Rigby to the veterinarian.

In dogs, the artificial sweetener stimulates insulin from the pancreas and lowers the blood sugar. The Steck’s realized Rigby could die if they didn’t take him to get help right away. It only took an hour and a half for his blood sugar to drop to a dangerous level.

It’s not just gum you have to worry about, Dr. Andrea Foley, veterinary program director at Madison College, said. Xylitol can be found in baked goods, desserts, nut butter and candies.

“The symptoms can occur rapidly. Shortly after ingestion, as quick as 10 minutes, clients may see dogs that are weak, that are tremoring, that are walking unstable or unsteady,” Foley said.

Veterinary experts said pet owners should take their dog to get checked out right away. After 9 to 72 hours, dogs could see irreversible affects, including liver failure. According to Foley, even a small amount, around 0.5 gm/kg, can make dogs sick.

“Those animals that are showing signs of low blood sugar and if they are caught in time and treated there is a really good prognosis, but if the symptoms are not caught and the animal is experiencing liver failure, those animals have a very guarded prognosis as far as recovery goes,” she said.