AUG 19, 2015 1:40 PM PDT

Warnings about Use of Xylitol in Dog Food

WRITTEN BY: Sarah Hertrich
A veterinarian from Portland, OR is seeking action from the US Food and Drug Administration in order to obtain warning labels on foods containing xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as an artificial sweetener derived from plants including birch trees, raspberries, plums and corn.  It has been known for quite some time that xylitol can cause toxicity in dogs however; the recent increase in the use of xylitol as an artificial sweetener in human foods has opted a raise in awareness of the dangers of feeding pets foods commonly containing the sweetener. Only a small amount of the toxin is needed to cause symptoms of toxicity in dogs. As little as 0.1 gram of xylitol per kilogram of body weight can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar within 30 minutes of ingestion. Only a 0.5 g/kg dose is toxic enough to cause acute hepatic necrosis which is a deadly form of liver failure. Other severe symptoms include vomiting, weakness, ataxia (uncoordinated movements), depression, hypokalemia (decreased potassium), seizures, coma and ultimately liver failure.
Xylitol can be found in peanut butter, a common treat fed to dogs.
The most common food item that xylitol can be found in is sugar free-gum, when can be tempting to dogs if not kept out of reach. Xylitol can also be found in sugar-free candies, baked goods, some pharmaceuticals and dental products such as toothpaste and mouthwash. Xylitol can also be found in peanut butter, a common treat fed to dogs. Owners should read labels carefully before feeding their pets any foods meant for human consumption. Be sure to keep these foods out of reach of your pets and only use pet toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth.

According to Dr. Jason Nicholas, an online petition this week was sent to some nut butter manufacturers with one manufacturer agreeing to add a new “not for pets” warning to their nut and nut butter product labels which contain xylitol. Dr. Nicholas expects that new labels will start showing up on store shelves and on product websites in the near future.
Only a 0.5 g/kg dose is toxic enough to cause acute hepatic necrosis in dogs which is a deadly form of liver failure
A separate petition sent by Dr. Nicholas to the FDA is requesting that the government agency mandate product labelling actions if the manufacturers are not going to do so voluntarily. In the petition, Dr. Nicholas recalled the 2011 FDA consumer warning about xylitol and commended the agency for this action. However; because xylitol is more commonly used in food products in recent years there has been a 210% increase in cases of xylitol toxicity. According to Dr. Nicholas there are an average of over ten dogs suffering from xylitol toxicity each day.
 
Sources: Food Safety News, vetmedicine.about.com
About the Author
  • I am a postdoctoral researcher with interests in pre-harvest microbial food safety, nonthermal food processing technologies, zoonotic pathogens, and plant-microbe interactions. My current research projects involve the optimization of novel food processing technologies to reduce the number of foodborne pathogens on fresh produce. I am a food geek!
You May Also Like
DEC 15, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Spiders Build Webs in Space
DEC 15, 2020
Spiders Build Webs in Space
As humans have ventured into space, they have carried some terrestrial life with them, including spiders. Once dreamed u ...
JAN 31, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Humans Drank Milk Long Before Their Bodies Could Tolerate It
JAN 31, 2021
Humans Drank Milk Long Before Their Bodies Could Tolerate It
Scientists and archaeologists have long sought to learn when humans started consuming milk. They have tried to use indir ...
FEB 15, 2021
Plants & Animals
There's More to Pigs Than Bacon
FEB 15, 2021
There's More to Pigs Than Bacon
Tests of pigs' intellect reveal a surprising level of intelligence.
FEB 19, 2021
Plants & Animals
What can Lemurs Teach us About Love?
FEB 19, 2021
What can Lemurs Teach us About Love?
Although not entirely accurate, romantic sentiments such as "you're my lobster" or "you're my pen ...
MAR 09, 2021
Microbiology
Dogs' Paws Are Cleaner Than Their Owners' Shoes
MAR 09, 2021
Dogs' Paws Are Cleaner Than Their Owners' Shoes
Assistance dogs are vital to many people who need them to perform daily tasks, but are sometimes denied entry to places ...
MAY 02, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Generating Error-Free, Complete Reference Genomes for Vertebrates
MAY 02, 2021
Generating Error-Free, Complete Reference Genomes for Vertebrates
Researchers have generated much more accurate reference materials for genomic studies. The work removed errors and impro ...
Loading Comments...