In my previous post, Easy Peanut Butter Dog Treat Recipe – Only 5 Ingredients, I mentioned that everyone needs to check their peanut butter for xylitol before feeding it to their dog. At first, I thought mostly everyone already knew about the dangers of feeding their dog xylitol since it’s been talked about quite a bit in the last few years.
Based on the comments on that post, not as many people are aware as I had assumed, so I want to take a few minutes to go over why xylitol is bad for dogs and why you should avoid it at all costs.
What is Xylitol?
First off, what is xylitol? Xylitol is a type of artificial sweetener that’s commonly found in gum, breath mints, tooth paste, and some foods for humans. It’s sweetness is similar to sucrose but it’s lower in calories and doesn’t appear to be harmful for humans.
In fact, it’s used in dental care products because it is thought that xylitol can lower the risk of developing cavities and kills bacteria. From what I’ve read, the studies are still inconclusive if this is due to xylitol alone or the combination of using fluoride products with xylitol.
It has other benefits for humans including the prevention of ear aches plus diabetes and weight management.
Xylitol is Found in Foods Naturally
Did you know that xylitol is found in healthy foods naturally? Even knowing the dangers of xylitol for dogs, I didn’t even know that until writing this article. The difference is, there is a very low amount of xylitol found naturally in foods so they don’t pose a threat for your dog.
Xylitol is naturally found in
- hardwood trees and fruits
Why is Xylitol Dangerous for Dogs?
If xylitol is fine and even beneficial for humans to ingest, what makes it dangerous for dogs? Dogs can actually have lower than 50 mg per pound of body weight without any notable ill effects.
It is even used in C.E.T. Aquadent water additive which is supposed to aid in the health of your dog’s mouth by preventing plaque accumulation and freshening their breath. This is a well-known water additive and is recommended by a lot of vets including my own. This product is meant to be added to your dog’s water every day, but even when considering the concentrated formula before diluting it with water still contains a very low amount of xylitol.
So in very low concentrations, xylitol can be beneficial to your dog’s dental health just like in humans. What happens if your dog ingests more than 50 mg per pound of body weight? In as few as 30 minutes your dog can develop hypoglycemia which is very dangerous. In some cases, it may take as long as 12 hours for your dog to show symptoms depending on the form of xylitol they ingested.
If your dog develops hypoglycemia – low blood sugar – you may notice a loss of coordination, they could collapse, or even have seizures or tremors. You may also notice vomiting or weakness and your dog could go into a coma. If your dog consumes more than 250 mg of xylitol per pound of the body weight, it can cause liver failure which is fatal.
So, in very controlled and vet tested instances – like with C.E.T. Aquadent water additive – xylitol can be beneficial. In any other circumstance, the dangers of your dog overdosing and being at risk for severe health complications just isn’t worth the risk. This makes it very important to make sure your dog doesn’t accidentally get into your toothpaste, gum, or breath mints.
Xylitol in Peanut Butter
Xylitol wasn’t a normal ingredient in peanut butter until pretty recently. With the increase of companies using artificial sweeteners in their products to reduce the calorie content, it’s becoming more common place.
Even with artificial sweeteners’ increase in popularity, most peanut butter doesn’t contain xylitol. The problem is that if people don’t know to check, they can poison their dog and not even realize it.
This is more of an “it’s better to be safe than sorry” circumstance since it only takes a few seconds to quickly scan the ingredients label on your peanut butter before giving it to your dog.
When you’re shopping for peanut butter, avoid these brands as they’re known to contain xylitol:
- No Cow (Formerly D’s Naturals)
- Go Nuts, Co.
- Krush Nutrition
- Nuts ‘N More
- P28 Foods
For a full list of all known human foods, supplements, and dental care products that contain xylitol click here.
What to Do If Your Dog Ingests Xylitol
If you think your dog has ingested xylitol, it’s imperative that you call your vet or a pet poison control line right away. Write or print out these two numbers along with your vet’s number and put them on your refrigerator in case you ever need them in the future.
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435
Pet Poison Helpline: (800) 213-6680
You will need to know what your dog ate since different forms of xylitol are digested at different rates. Your vet or one of the pet poison control lines will advise you on what to do. Don’t induce vomiting unless they tell you to since dogs that are already showing signs of hypoglycemia will get worse by inducing vomiting.
Check out this video from veterinarian Maria Elena Alvarez for an in depth explanation on how xylitol effects your dog, how different forms of xylitol affect your dog, and what the treatments are for xylitol poisoning. It’s only 5 minutes long, but it’s really helpful to explain the dangers of xylitol.
How to Avoid Xylitol Poisoning
Xylitol poisoning is easily avoided by checking the ingredients in food before sharing them with your dog. It generally takes less than a minute to read the ingredients label and it could save your dog’s life! I’m a big believer in sharing healthy human food with my dogs and making homemade dog treats for them – just make sure it’s safe first.
If you use any products that contain xylitol, make sure they are securely stored out of reach of your dog. If you commonly chew sugar-less gum and you keep it in your purse, make sure you don’t leave your purse lying around where your dog can get into it.
Human dental products seem to be the most popular culprits of xylitol poisoning in dogs, especially sugar-less gum. Sometimes dogs are weird and they find the most unsuspecting things interesting or appetizing, so just use extra caution with anything containing xylitol.
Also, make sure you are only using toothpaste formulated for dogs when you brush your dog’s teeth since a lot of human toothpastes contain xylitol (plus other ingredients that shouldn’t be in your dog’s mouth)
Xylitol in my House
While writing this post, I checked around my house to see what we have that has xylitol in the ingredients. We don’t really chew sugar-less gum, nor do we normally keep mints on hand. I did find some stuff in the bathroom though.
In our house, my husband and I use separate mouthwashes and toothpastes since I prefer the more natural types and he uses main stream name brands. So, I found it interesting that both my mouthwash and toothpaste has xylitol in them but my husband’s doesn’t.
Crest Pro Health mouthwash and toothpaste doesn’t contain xylitol and neither does their new gum detoxify toothpaste. On the other hand, Tom’s of Maine mouthwash and Redmond Earth Paste both do have xylitol in them.
Have you noticed xylitol in any other common products? Feel free to comment below and let me know if I’ve left one out. Also, if you have any questions, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer them.