AUG 19, 2015 01:40 PM PDT

Warnings about Use of Xylitol in Dog Food

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
AUG 24, 2018
Earth & The Environment
AUG 24, 2018
What's the deal with Florida's red tide?
Have you ever seen a red tide? If you live in Florida near the coast, it’s unlikely that you’ve been able to avoid them. But do you really unde...
OCT 16, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 16, 2018
Reintroduction of Wolves to Yellowstone National Park Yielded Positive Impact, Study Shows
Something incredible has been happening at Yellowstone National Park since the introduction of wolves there in 1995, and a new study published this week in...
OCT 16, 2018
Drug Discovery
OCT 16, 2018
Anti-Venomous Plant Compound
According to a study published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, researchers at the Institute Butantan, São Paulo, Brazil, have discovered a flav...
OCT 23, 2018
Earth & The Environment
OCT 23, 2018
Can the Hambach forest be saved?
The Hambach Forest is nestled in the Rhineland of western Germany, not too far from the city of Cologne. At 12,000 years old, it is the oldest old-growth f...
NOV 11, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
NOV 11, 2018
Bee Study Connects Social Behavior with Gene Variants
Researchers used a special kind of bee that can live in either social communities or isolation, as their research model....
NOV 12, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 12, 2018
Researchers Link Sunfish Brain Size to Specific Habitats
To most people, a specific fish species would be the same whether it was found at the shoreline or in the middle of the ocean. But according to research pu...
Loading Comments...