Ingredient potentially fatal to dogs can be found in everyday items

After trick or treating over Halloween weekend, owners need to remember to keep these sweet treats out of a dog’s reach.

It is common knowledge that chocolate can be deadly to dogs, but there is one more ingredient in a number of sweet foods that can be deadly to dogs too.

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is used in a variety of things, including sugar-free chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, vitamin supplements, some brands of peanut butters, and other low-sugar or sugar-free products.

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Caroline Reay, veterinary director at Blue Cross, said: “Xylitol is a common sugar substitute that can be toxic to dogs even in small amounts.

“It can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) because a dog’s pancreas mistakes it for real sugar, which causes it to make more insulin.

“The insulin then removes the real sugar in the body, which leads to a drop in blood sugar levels.

“Another reaction to xylitol is liver failure and this is more severe, but it is not known what causes it.”

The alarming reactions dogs can have to this ingredient mean that it’s really important that owners are careful about what their dog has access to.

Dr. Reay said, “Prevention is key; all human food should be kept out of the reach of dogs, but be especially vigilant with products that contain xylitol.

“Make sure that there are no gum packs lying around the house or in bags and handbags that your pet can raid.”

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Many pet owners like to put peanut butter on leaky mats for their dogs, as the mats are designed to help calm anxious dogs or stimulate them when they are bored.

Pet parents need to ensure that the peanut butter they use to make it comes from a dog-friendly brand that does not use xylitol in their products.

If your dog has managed to sniff out and consume something that contains the sweetener, it is important that you get him treated as soon as possible.

Dr. Reay said, “If you suspect that your dog has eaten something that has xylitol, you must take it to the vet immediately as it can be quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.

“If a drop in blood sugar levels is prevented or brought under control quickly, the prognosis is good.

“Delays in veterinary procedures can cause further complications and irreversible damage, and increase the likelihood of xylitol poisoning being fatal.

“Make sure, if possible, that you take the packaging of the product your dog ate to the vets.”

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