Health officials are warning pet owners to look out for an ingredient that's safe for humans, but dangerous for dogs. If your four-legged friend gets ahold of anything containing xylitol, a sugar substitute found in food and dental products, it can trigger serious and sometimes fatal side effects.
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While some human foods are good for dogs, in recent years, the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine has received several reports of dogs poisoned by the sweetener. Most cases involved pups who got into chewing gum, though xylitol can also be found in breath mints, baked goods, cough syrup, chewable vitamins, mouthwash, toothpaste, some peanut and nut butters, over-the-counter medicines, dietary supplements and sugar-free desserts like "skinny" ice cream.
So why can humans have it if dogs can't? In both organisms, blood sugar levels are controlled by the release of insulin from the pancreas. In people, xylitol does not have any effect on this process, but in dogs it's quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in a rapid release of insulin. Within 10 minutes to 24 hours, your pooch could experience life-threatening symptoms due to dangerously low blood sugar.
Some of those symptoms to look out for include vomiting, decreased activity, weakness, staggering, poor coordination, collapse and seizures. If so, you should take your pet to the vet or an emergency animal hospital immediately. To keep your dog safe, always check labels for xylitol, especially nut butters if you give them a lick or two as a treat. Keep toxic foods out of reach and be extra careful if your pooch is prone to jump up on the counter. Instead of rewarding your pet with things that could potentially be bad for them, make him roll over for one of these 18 dog-friendly superfoods instead.