The Dangers of Xylitol

Hi everyone!

I’m aware that I haven’t been writing recently, but I have been very busy with my new puppy and taking on a new path toward a career in dental hygiene. For the past year, dental hygiene has been a serious consideration of mine and I’m finally happy to say that I am fully committed to applying to dental hygiene school at the same place where my parents received their dental educations years (and years) ago! Quite the life change, right? Right now, I am busy taking a few classes at the local university, painting commissioned art pieces, taking care of Fitz, and preparing my application for hygiene school, but I just had to get back into writing my blog. I figured that my first post back from my break needed to be about something important, and as a dog owner and prospective dental hygiene student, the dangers of xylitol is something that hits me close to home.

As the use of the sweetener and sugar-substitute, xylitol, has grown in the food industry, so has the risk of poisoning for our beloved pets. Not many people are aware of the deathly effects that xylitol has on their cats and dogs when they’re purchasing a pack of presumably healthy sugar-free gum, but that doesn’t mean they should remain ignorant about the ingredient. I feel as if it is very important to educate the public about the choices we are making and the effects they may have on the health of our best friends.

This subject unfortunately hadn’t really caught my attention until my own personal experience with the toxicity of xylitol. A few months ago, my miniature schnauzer puppy ended up at the emergency vet with no indication of what was making him so sick. After a near-death experience, weeklong stay in the hospital, and countless test results with no explanations, the doctors decided that Fitz must have gotten into some kind of toxin, such as xylitol. They explained to me that the number of emergency cases from xylitol poisoning in dogs is overwhelming and upsetting. Not only is it a common issue, but they also are often lethal.

Even though I don’t have gum or candy in my apartment, which are two of the main xylitol culprits, the doctors said that even a piece of chewed gum on the sidewalk could be detrimental. This news was very upsetting and I have since made sure to clear EVERYTHING in my home that contained any fraction of the toxin. I luckily had nothing to throw away, but the research I did about the sweetener drove me mad. I discovered that there are so many commonly bought products that are made with xylitol and most of them were things I never would’ve guessed to contain it.

Some of these items may include:

  • sugar-free candies and mints
  • sugar-free gum
  • baked goods
  • jams/jellys
  • energy bars
  • toothpaste
  • vitamins

In addition, xylitol has been advertised as having benefits for gum and tooth health. Many dentists praise the ingredient for its ability to reduce the chance of developing cavities and gingivitis; however, they must also be sure to make its detrimental effects on pets very clear when doing so. I hope to spread the word about xylitol’s dangers to various dentists and grocery stores around the area in an effort to educate consumers who may have no knowledge about it.

IMG_7487

A picture I took of my little guy at the vet – quite the pitiful face

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