The first warning deals with products made with the sugar substitute xylityol; a natural sweetener found in a number of plants. In this country, it's made from corn stalks.
Xylitol is used in a variety of sugar-free products, including gum, mints, ice cream, and all sorts of products made for diabetics.
If you or I eat too much xylitol, we might get bloating or gas or diarrhea. When dogs eat xylitol, they can get really sick.
"The one case I have seen, it was a dog that had eaten one of those nutrition-type bars that had xylitol in it," says Danielle Wassink, one of the vets at Animal Critical Care & Emergency Services in Seattle.
She's seen first-hand what xylitol can do.
"When a dog ingests it, it causes a bunch of insulin to be released, so it mimics real sugar, " she explains. "Their body releases a bunch of insulin to go use up the sugar which can then cause them to get very, very hypoglycemic, or have a very low blood sugar."
This can cause seizures, tremors, weakness, and collapse. It can also cause liver failure. So the results can be fatal.
It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours for the dog to get sick, and it can be a few days before the liver failure sets in. So, if you ever suspect your critter has gotten into something containing the sweetener xylitol, call your vet right away.
The ASPCA Animals Poison Control Center has seen the number of xylitol-related cases increase dramatically the last few years. In 2004, they handled 70 cases. Last year, the problem more than doubled to 170 cases. So far this year, they figure stands at 114 cases. If the current rate continues it will be another record year.
Skip The Grapes And Raisins Too!
I bet most dog owners don't know this, but you're not supposed to feed your dog grapes or raisins, because they can cause kidney failure. It really isn't known yet what's in grapes and raisins that can be toxic.
"There's not really a proven toxic level or amount," Dr. Wassink says, "so it could be as small as a couple of grapes to getting into a whole bag of grapes."
The ASPCA urges pet owners not to feed their pooches any grapes (red or green) or raisins. In rare cases, that treat could kill your pet.
More Foods To Keep Away From Your Pets
- Alcoholic beverages
- Fatty foods
- Macadamia nuts
- Onions or onion powder
- Raisins and grapes
- Spoiled or moldy food
- Yeast dough
- Products sweetened with xylitol (a sugar substitute)
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