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The Dangers of Xylitol

Do you know what Xylitol is? The answer is probably not, because do we really need to know what it is? This blog post is going to highlight the dangers and awareness of Xylitol poisoning in dogs. We recently had a dog called Winston come to Legacy Pets after unfortunately ingesting some chewing gum left on the pavement while out on a walk. Just 30 minutes after, Winston was so poorly that he never recovered. Winston’s story touched us here at Legacy Pets, and we thought it only be right to help raise awareness to the dangers of Xylitol. We ourselves were not aware about the dangers of Xylitol and how harmful it can be, so here is what we’ve learned:

Xylitol is a common ingredient and you’d be surprised to know that it likely appears in most of your day-to-day foods and condiments. Not many people know about Xylitol and how fatal it can be, however in comparison, it would be hard to find a dog owner who didn’t know that chocolate was toxic to dogs, wouldn’t it? Yet Xylitol can be far more dangerous to dogs than chocolate is. Your dog would only need to ingest a small amount of Xylitol compared to how much chocolate they’d need to ingest for it to be fatal to them. Yet a lot of dog owners don’t know about Xylitol and how dangerous it can be.

The dangers of Xylitol need to be highlighted now, because the ingredient is becoming so popular and is showing up more and more in common food products lately. Infact, the odds are that you have more than one product in your house right now that contains Xylitol and you might not even know it. Now think, how many times has your dog gotten hold of a package or food item that they weren’t supposed to? Did you get to them just in time before they ate the contents? If yes, go and check that item and check the ingredients for Xylitol. You may have got to your dog before they could eat it, imagine if they had eaten it? The outcome could have been heartbreaking.

Xylitol is a “sugar alcohol”, a natural sugar substitute and is often found in “sugar-free” mints, chewing gum, toothpaste and mouthwash. However, since it’s also considered a good sugar substitute for diabetics, Xylitol can now be found in sugar-free baked goods like cookies and muffins. It’s now even being added to some brands of peanut butter – which is so dangerous because how much does your dog LOVE peanut butter?! We use it all the time to maybe keep your pet still, or so they’ll take their medication or even just for a treat. Please make sure you check any ingredients before giving your dog ANY human foods.

How To Protect Your Dog From Xylitol Poisoning:

Be careful where you put your bag, backpack, shopping bags, briefcase or any other bag that may contain your chewing gum, mints, mouthwashes or even lip balm. Never leave them on the floor, sofa, or chair. Be careful when leaving them on low-lying tables or kitchen counters, too. The safest place to keep such bags is hung on a secure wall hook, on a sturdy coat rack.

If you do any sugar-free baking in your household, or if anyone in the home is diabetic, be extremely careful where you store your baked goods and bulk sweeteners. Many dogs will ‘counter surf’ to get to such tasty treats left out on kitchen counters. (And don’t forget about overnight houseguests who may be diabetic.)

If you brush your dog’s teeth, be sure to use only pet-specific toothpastes. Not only will they not contain xylitol, but they also won’t contain fluoride – which can also be toxic to pets.

Maintain lead control over your dog’s when out on walks. This will help prevent ‘scavenging’ (the act of your dog eating things off the ground). Amongst other things, a scavenging dog could ingest discarded xylitol-containing gum or somebody’s dropped xylitol-containing muffin.

Check the ingredient label of any product you buy, keep in your purse, pockets or around your house. Exercise strict caution around your dogs with any products that have Xylitol in their ingredient list.

If your dog ever gets into your gum, mints, peanut butter, or anything else, be sure to check the ingredient label and immediately contact your vets.

These tips could be life saving for your pet. You may not think it will happen to you, but what if it does?

We’d like to dedicate this blog to Winston and his family, Winston sadly was taken away far too soon due to a negligent person who discarded their chewing gum on a public footpath rather than using many of the bins provided. Winston’s family are now left heartbroken, we asked Winston’s mum Kirsty how the experience has left them feeling and she said “We can’t ever bring our boy back, but if we can stop one other dog and their family from this living hell, then it’s a small consolation.”

So please, if you are able to, share this blog post with your family and friends. We hope that it reaches dog owners who were as in the dark about Xylitol as we were.


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