Sugar substitute can be deadly for dogs

(Jeff Reeves/WNCN)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Veterinarians are issuing a warning to pet owners about a sweetener used in sugarless gum and other products that could be deadly if consumed by a dog.

The sugar substitute Xylitol is safe for humans, but can cause severe low blood sugar and liver failure in canines.

Sugar-free gum is the biggest culprit, but the sweetener is also used in some sugar-free candies, chewable vitamins, and even some baked goods and peanut butter.

See foods that are toxic for dogs
See foods that are toxic for dogs

The number of products using Xylitol is on the rise, and so are the calls to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Poison Control Center – from 82 in 2004 to more than 3,700 last year.

Some animal welfare groups are now calling for warning labels on products containing Xylitol.

Dr. Ashley Gallagher from the Friendship Animal Hospital in Washington says the key is vigilance on the part of the owners.

“You just have to be really careful because dogs are nosy little creatures, and they are hungry all the time,” she said. “I know my dogs are, and they are just looking for a treat, so you have to really watch them.”

Dr. Gallagher said dog owners should check the labels of all products that say “sugar-free,” and anything that contains Xylitol should be placed far out of reach.

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