Saturday, March 08, 2008

Xylitol is not for dogs!

In the world of sugar substitutes, we have all been accustomed to products with Nutrasweet, Sweet N'Low (and other saccharins), Equal and Splenda.

However, research indicates dogs should avoid one sweetener in particular: xylitol, which according to a Veterinary Medicine article by veterinarian Eric Dunayer, could be toxic. Dunayer is a staff veterinarian for the ASPCA Animal Control Center in Urbana, Ill. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener in many products, including sugar-free gum, chewable vitamins, oral-care products and baked goods. Although xylitol consumption is considered safe in people, dogs can develop serious, even life-threatening signs from its ingestion. Ironically, the symptoms brought on by xylitol do not mimic hyperglycemia (as in diabetes), but rather the opposite effects (hypoglycemia).

Xylitol's popularity is based on the fact that on a measure-for-measure basis, it carries only two-thirds the calories of sugar and causes very little insulin-release in people. Therefore, xylitol is viewed as a solution in the diets of many sweet-craving Americans.

How does that work? In simple terms, xylitol doesn't require insulin to enter cells, and therefore blood-level concentrations of glucose are significantly lowered. The consequence in xylitol-sensitive dogs is that hypoglycemia can result from so much storage of glucose in the cells.

The sensitivity of xylitol in dogs has been documented by the ASPCA's Poison Control Center database from 2003 to 2006. Eight cases have illustrated that very small amounts (less than 0.1 gram per kilogram of body weight) can cause symptoms in dogs. Furthermore, it has been shown that serum glucose concentrations can dip in as soon as one to two hours after ingestion. Therefore, if symptoms of weakness and lack of energy are seen in your dog after sweet goodies are eaten, seek veterinary assistance.

No comments: