Xylitol Dangerous for Dogs-Truth! 

Summary of eRumor:

Warnings have gone viral that the sugar substitute Xylitol can be dangerous to dogs, and that Xylitol toxicity can be fatal for dogs.

The Truth:

It’s true that foods containing the sugar substitute Xylitol can be dangerous, and even deadly, to dogs.

Warnings about the dangers of Xylitol poisoning in dogs went viral in late 2015 after an NBC News affiliate report emerged about a Wisconsin family’s two-year-old golden retriever dying from Zylitol toxicity after eating a few pieces of gum:

GLENWOOD CITY, Wis. – Anyone with a dog knows how curious and resourceful they can be around anything edible. That curiosity apparently killed a dog in Western Wisconsin.

Luna, a 2-year-old golden retriever, was put down by her owners Tuesday evening after she ingesting Xylitol-laden gum on Monday. Luna had suffered severe liver damage.

“Luna had gotten into a container of gum, actually chewed it open herself,” said Samantha Caress, 22. She, boyfriend Jordan Pellett ,22, and their son, Grady, 7 months, are devastated.

“She was like our first child. She was like our family before we even had Grady,” said Caress.

Caress and Pellett said the dog ingested the “Ice Breaker” Lemon-flavor gum while the couple was out of the home in rural Glenwood City. They rushed her to the Animal Emergency Center in Oakdale, Minnesota early Tuesday.

The issue of Xylitol toxicity in dogs appears to be a growing one, too. The Pet Poison Helpline received 10 times more calls related to Xylitol poisoning in dogs in November 2015 than it had in all of 2009.  Caroline Coile, a columnist for the American Kennel Club, explained that Xylitol is especially dangerous to dogs because their body processes and stores it as though it were real sugar, not a substitute:

The dog’s pancreas confuses xylitol with real sugar and releases insulin to store it. The insulin removes real sugar from the bloodstream and the dog can become weak, and have tremors and even seizures starting within 30 minutes of eating it.” Other symptoms of hypoglycemia include poor coordination and vomiting/diarrhea.

The FDA explains that Xylitol is not dangerous to people because it does not stimulate the same release of insulin in the pancreases of humans as it does in dogs:

In both people and dogs, the level of blood sugar is controlled by the release of insulin from the pancreas. In people, xylitol does not stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas. However, it’s different in canines: When dogs eat something containing xylitol, the xylitol is more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, and may result in a potent release of insulin from the pancreas.

This rapid release of insulin may result in a rapid and profound decrease in the level of blood sugar (hypoglycemia), an effect that can occur within 10 to 60 minutes of eating the xylitol. Untreated, this hypoglycemia can quickly be life-threatening.

The American Kennel Club recommends that you contact a veterinarian if your dog eats anything containing xylitol — no matter how much:

If you suspect your dog ate something with xylitol in it, no matter how little it was, contact your veterinarian (or an emergency veterinarian if off-hours) immediately.

“Because the amount of xylitol in gum and other products varies so widely and because some manufacturers don’t report how much is in their product, it’s important to call your veterinarian as soon as possible if he ate something with xylitol in it,” Coile says.

A good prognosis is dependent on how quickly the pet is treated. Your veterinarian may need to stabilize your pet’s blood sugar, give intravenous fluids, monitor your pet, and use other therapies to treat symptoms.

 In addition to chewing gum, Xylitol can be found in a range of products from peanut butter to pharmaceuticals. For a complete list of products containing Xylitol, click here

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

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