Xylitol is a very popular sugar substitute that now appears in more and more sugar-free products, such as chewing gum, candies, toothpaste, mouthwash and oral rinses (sometimes even canine ones!), children’s vitamins, cough syrup, and bakery products. Plus it is now an ingredient in a growing number of specialty peanut and other nut butters (e.g., Go Nuts Co., Hank’s Protein Plus Peanut Butter, Krush Nutrition, Nuts ‘n More, P28). Since peanut butter has traditionally been given to our pets as a special treat or perhaps in administering medications or stuffing Kong-type toys, this is of particular concern.
While xylitol is safe for humans, it is extremely toxic for dogs — 100 times more toxic than chocolate (see xylitol vs chocolate). Just very small amounts can cause seizures, liver damage, and even death. Suspicion of ingestion requires that you contact your veterinarian immediately. For more details on how to identify symptoms of xylitol poisoning and, better yet, how to insure your pet doesn’t get access to the substance, check out this site.
Other artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin (Sweet ‘n Low), aspartame (Nutrasweet), sucralose (Splenda) and Stevia (a plant derivative) are generally regarded as safe and should not cause significant illness other than possible diarrhea.
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