No Sugar Coating: Products Sweetened With Xylitol Can Be Toxic To Dogs

- Number of 2005 Xylitol-Related Cases Up More Than 150% Over Previous Year
- Sugar-free Chewing Gums, Candies, Baked Goods Among Products

ASPCA Media Contacts

Urbana, Ill., August 21, 2006—The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center cautions animal owners that xylitol, a sweetener found in certain sugar-free chewing gums, candies, baked goods and other products can potentially cause serious and even life-threatening problems for pets.

“Last year, we managed more than 170 cases involving xylitol-containing products,” says Dana Farbman, CVT and spokesperson for the Center.  “This is a significant increase from 2004, when we managed about 70.”  Barely halfway into 2006, the Center has already managed about 114 cases.  Why the increase?  “It’s difficult to say,” Farbman states.  “Xylitol products are relatively new to the United States marketplace, so one possibility may be an increase in availability.”

According to Dr. Eric Dunayer, veterinarian and toxicologist for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, dogs ingesting significant amounts of items sweetened with xylitol could develop a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, loss of coordination and seizures.  “These signs can develop quite rapidly, at times less than 30 minutes after ingestion of the product. Therefore, it is crucial that pet owners seek veterinary treatment immediately.”  Dr. Dunayer also stated that there appears to be a strong link between xylitol ingestions and the development of liver failure in dogs.

While it was previously thought that only large concentrations of xylitol could result in problems, this appears to no longer be the case.  “We seem to be learning new information with each subsequent case we manage,” says Dr. Dunayer.  “Our concern used to be mainly with products that contain xylitol as one of the first ingredients.  However, we have begun to see problems developing from ingestions of products with lesser amounts of this sweetener.”  He also says that with smaller concentrations of xylitol, the onset of clinical signs could be delayed as much as 12 hours after ingestion.  “Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that even if your pet does not develop signs right away, it does not mean that problems won’t develop later on.”

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center strongly urges pet owners to be especially diligent in keeping candy, gum or other foods containing xylitol out of the reach of pets. As with any potentially toxic substance, should accidental exposures occur, it is important to contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for immediate assistance.

Ten Most Common Poisonous Plants

Ingestion of Cannabis sativa by companion animals can result in depression of the central nervous system and incoordination, as well as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, increased heart rate, and even seizures and coma.

Sago Palm
All parts of Cycas Revoluta are poisonous, but the seeds or “nuts” contain the largest amount of toxin. The ingestion of just one or two seeds can result in very serious effects, which include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and liver failure.

Members of the Lilium species are considered to be highly toxic to cats. While the poisonous component has not yet been identified, it is clear that with even ingestions of very small amounts of the plant, severe kidney damage could result.

Tulip/Narcissus bulbs
The bulb portions of Tulipa/Narcissus species contain toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.

5. Azalea/Rhododendron
Members of the Rhododenron species. contain substances known as grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and depression of the central nervous system in animals. Severe azalea poisoning could ultimately lead to coma and death from cardiovascular collapse.

All parts of Nerium oleander are considered to be toxic, as they contain cardiac glycosides that have the potential to cause serious effects—including gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia and even death.

7. Castor Bean
The poisonous principle in Ricinus communis is ricin, a highly toxic protein that can produce severe abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, weakness and loss of appetite. Severe cases of poisoning can result in dehydration, muscle twitching, tremors, seizures, coma and death.

8. Cyclamen
Cylamen species contain cyclamine, but the highest concentration of this toxic component is typically located in the root portion of the plant. If consumed, Cylamen can produce significant gastrointestinal irritation, including intense vomiting. Fatalities have also been reported in some cases.

This plant contains components that can produce gastrointestinal irritation, as well as those that are toxic to the heart, and can seriously affect cardiac rhythm and rate.

Taxus species contains a toxic component known as taxine, which causes central nervous system effects such as trembling, incoordination, and difficulty breathing. It can also cause significant gastrointestinal irritation and cardiac failure, which can result in death.

Daily Care Tips

Grooming - Give your peke a quick brushing everyday. Twice a week give your peke a throrough brushing. For great grooming tips check out the links page. Some of the show breeders give excellent advice on grooming on their sites as well as other health issues..

Face Washing - Wash your pekes face daily. Make sure that you clean under the fold beneath the eyes to help prevent infections. If you see hairs touching the eyes take a very small amount of vaseline and apply it onto the hair to help train the hair away from the eyes. Just use a very small amount. NEVER EVER cut the hair on the wrinkle. The hair will grow back stiff and course and can scratch the eyes and create corneal ulcers. Your peke could eventually lose an eye.

Nose Wrinkle - Clean your pekes nose wrinkle daily. It is very important to keep underneath the wrinkle clean and dry to prevent infections. Use an antibacterial soap by dipping a Q~tip into a soap water solution. Gently clean the wrinkle being careful not to poke your peke or get soap in the eyes. After you've cleaned the wrinkle carefully dry it. Dip a clean Q~tip into some cornstarch and gently roll it under the wrinkle. By applying cornstarch you are helping to keep the wrinkle moisture free.

General Care Tips

Wrinkle Infection - If your peke has a stinky face particularly near his/her nose wrinkle chances are your peke has an infection under the wrinkle. Apply a small amount of Gold Bond foot powder (yellow container) by dipping a Q-tip into it and gently rolling it under the nose wrinkle. The Gold Bond powder will help to kill any yeast or bacteria under the wrinkle.
Be very careful to not get any of the powder in the eyes.

*Another great thing to use is Tobramycin ointment under the wrinkle for wrinkle infections. Tobramycin is an eye ointment but also heals nose wrinkle infections.

Itchy Skin & Hot Spots - If your peke has itchy skin and/or hot spots try sprinkling some Gold Bond foot powder on them or on the hot spot. Gently massage the powder into the coat. The Gold Bond has a cooling effect and will dry out any hot spot.

Back Problems - The best way to avoid back problems is to not let your peke jump upon and off furniture or go up and down stairs. Pekes have long backs and short little legs. They are prone to back problems. If your peke does hurt their back the best thing you can do for them is to keep them crated or confined to a small area where they can't really walk around. They need daily prednisone and rest for a couple of weeks.

Nutrition Tips

1. Canine Nutrition - Word Document

Recipe - Mutt Loaf - Word Document
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