Emmett is a 2 year old Great Pyrenees, and he is tall enough to get to anything unattended. This can be a pet owner’s worse nightmare. When you have a curious puppy or young dog, there are all kinds of household hazards you need to constantly be aware of, so we are going to use Emmett’s constant escapades to help our pet owner’s navigate through the tricky health concerns of all puppies and young dogs.
Episode #3 Xylitol
Xylitol is a common sugar substitute most commonly seen in sugar free gums and toothpaste. It has also recently been added to peanut butters, making it more widely accessible to the canine population.
The encounter: Your child’s Halloween candy supply is dwindling, and really all that’s left in there is that awful pink gum you and your children don’t really want to eat anyways. One of your children has left out their bag of useless candy, and now Emmett has eaten all those leftovers your child has rejected. Now you panic. You know your dog shouldn’t eat sugar free gum, but how do you know if the gum was sugar free? You quickly do an internet search of the gross pink gum that was sitting in the bottom of that Halloween bucket, and sigh with relief, because it’s full sugar gum, and give your dog a pat on the head for not dying today.
Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is found in sugar free chewing gums and toothpastes. Generally, these items are less frequently ingested by pets, but recently xylitol has been added to certain peanut butters as well. This is a big deal, because many people use peanut butter for treats or medicating their pets, and there are no warnings on these new peanut butters that this is harmful for dogs. There is also no good way to inform all pet owners of this new serious health hazard.
The second potential threat is Liver disease, and essentially death of the liver cells. Veterinarians have not quite figured out how xylitol causes this effect, but the doses required are higher than low blood sugar symptoms. Signs also take longer to show up.
If the incident is recognized and brought to the vet’s attention quickly, than certain measures may be taken to risk fatality or serious harm from this toxin. Your veterinarian will definitely want to run baseline bloodwork to evaluate the liver, and probably continue to monitor this organ and its function. In addition, pets are treated with IV fluids, and sometimes with a sugar added into the IV fluids to reduce the effects of the low blood sugar. Liver protecting medications may also be started, depending on the dose of the xylitol ingested.
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