What is Xylitol?
Xylitol has gained popularity in recent years as a low carb, sugar alternative. Technically, Xylitol is not a sugar … it's a sugar alcohol, also known as a polyol. Sugar alcohols are found naturally in certain fruits and vegetables. Xylitol is commercially produced from the cellulose of wood, sugar cane pulp, certain seed hulls, and/or corn cobs. Even though it's classified as a carbohydrate, Xylitol has a low glycemic impact due to its slow absorption in the digestive tract, which means it won't cause your blood sugar to rise rapidly. With approximately 1/3 fewer calories than sugar and zero net carbs, Xylitol is one of the preferred sweeteners by those looking to live a healthier lifestyle. Xylitol can be substituted cup-for-cup like sugar in baking, and is great in hot and cold beverages. Xylitol tastes like sugar, and it has a slightly "cool" taste, similar to a mild menthol sensation. Unlike sugar, Xylitol does not promote tooth decay.
As the general public becomes more aware of the health problems caused by over consumption of sugar and its affect on blood sugar, weight control, dental health, and a variety of other health issues, Xylitol has become more popular with manufacturers looking for a sugar alternative. New products are being developed with Xylitol to satisfy our craving for sugar free, lower carb options. While this is a positive and healthy lifestyle choice for humans, it can be toxic and deadly to animals. Recent news articles have reported many dog deaths due to consumption of Xylitol. Dogs are the most severely affected by Xylitol, but cats and other pets have also experienced health issues.
Why is Xylitol Dangerous to Dogs?
In humans, Xylitol does not stimulate the release of insulin and, therefore, does not cause a rapid increase in blood sugar. Xylitol causes a different reaction in dogs. Even a small amount can be fatal to a dog as Xylitol causes a rapid release of insulin and a dramatic decrease in blood sugar. It should be noted that Xylitol can also be toxic to cats, but there is little support documentation since cats generally stay away from sweets. According to the FDA, "symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs include vomiting, followed by symptoms associated with the sudden lowering of your dog's blood sugar, such as decreased activity, weakness, staggering, incoordination, collapse and seizures."
What Kinds of Products Contain Xylitol?
You may have already been aware that Xylitol is toxic to dogs and you've already seen the warning labels when you purchased your Xylitol powder (used in baking and beverages), BUT … did you know that Xylitol is also found in toothpaste, mouthwash, cough syrups, nasal sprays, vitamin supplements, mints, gum, chocolate, candy, protein powders, protein bars, sugar free drinks, barbecue sauce, ketchup, jams and preserves, honey, and nut butters? That's right … nut butters! As a dog owner, do you use peanut butter to hide your dog's medication? Have you used peanut butter in a doggie treat toy? If so, for your dogs safety, please stop and check the ingredient label first.
Keep Your Dogs Safe!
With more consumers looking for sugar free, lower carb options these days, it's a good idea to read ingredient labels carefully before purchasing. And, if you have an active dog who loves to eat everything in sight, you'll want to make sure your Xylitol-containing products are out of their reach.
As an online retailer of low carb products, Netrition carries a large assortment of products that contain Xylitol. Any product, sold on our site, that contains Xylitol in the ingredients will display a warning in the products' Nutrition Facts which says: "Keep all xylitol and xylitol containing food products out of reach of dogs. Even small amounts can be toxic to dogs. If you suspect your dog has eaten a xylitol-containing food, please contact your veterinarian immediately." If you have a concern about Xylitol, please check the Nutrition Facts before purchasing. Netrition wants to help you, and your pets, live a healthy lifestyle.
1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Xylitol and Your Dog: Danger, Paws Off
2. NOW Foods: Xylitol FAQs