Xylitol is a type of artificial sugar substitute that is used in place of natural sugar in a wide variety of different types of products, and which is a very common ingredient in sugar-free goods in the UK.
Sugar-free products in general are very popular and there are a range of different sweetening agents that can be used in them in place of sugar, although xylitol is by far the most common of them.
However, whilst xylitol is generally considered to be safe for humans (albeit eating a lot of it can have a laxative effect, and there is also a lot of debate over whether such artificial products might be harmful in the long term), it is very toxic to dogs.
Whilst the amount of xylitol that any dog would have to consume to be dangerous can vary depending on the amount of xylitol in the product itself and the size of the dog in question, dogs should never be given or allowed to eat anything containing xylitol, and if you know or suspect that your dog has eaten xylitol, you should speak to your vet immediately.
Most dog owners are at least peripherally aware that xylitol can be dangerous for dogs, but not all dog owners know exactly how widely spread xylitol is, and the full range of products it can potentially be found in – and not all of them are what we would automatically think of as sweet foods, and some aren’t even actually food at all!
With this in mind, this article will introduce you to five surprising things that can contain xylitol that might not be immediately obvious to you, and which could harm your dog if they are given such products or eat them accidentally. Read on to learn more.
Vitamins and supplements usually come in either pill or capsule format, and pills are coated with a smooth coating that makes them easier to swallow, and which is also often sweetened in order to make it more palatable and to mask the taste of the supplement itself. Chewy gum vitamins are also quite popular today too, especially with children – and of course, most people take vitamins and supplements for their health benefits, and so would not be overly keen on consuming added sugar as part of this.
This means that most of those sweet coatings on pills, and also one of the ingredients in many chewy vitamins is an artificial sugar substitute, and this is often xylitol.
Treat such products like medicines and keep them out of your dog’s reach, and never give human vitamins or supplements to your dog.
Mouthwashes and other types of dental rinses usually taste of some form of mint, but they are also usually slightly sweet in order to be more palatable too.
Obviously using sugar to achieve this sweet taste would completely negate the point of using such products, and as a result of this, artificial sweeteners are used in its place – and the most common of these is of course once again, xylitol.
Whilst mouthwashes aren’t things your dog is apt to get into by accident, many people who take proper care of their dogs’ teeth use canine dental rinses as part of their routine, and these are perfectly fine – but never substitute them with products for people.
Things like lip gloss and other forms of makeup that have a sweet or fruity taste or scent usually contain an artificial sweetener too.
Obviously lip gloss isn’t something that you’d use on your dog (or if it is, feel free to tell us more!) but dogs are notorious for chewing and destroying things when left unsupervised, including makeup – and things that smell or taste sweet will be particularly appealing to your dog, so keep them well out of their reach!
A great many of us check the ingredients label of peanut butter brands carefully today in order to avoid buying a jar that contains palm oil, but there might be something else undesirable lurking in that jar too – xylitol.
Most forms of peanut butter are sweetened with sugar, but sugar-free peanut butter products are widely available to buy too, and these are commonly sweetened with xylitol instead. Read more about peanut butter and dogs in this article.
Finally, chocolate and sweets made for people with diabetes need to be made without added sugar, and a wide range of different sugar substitutes are used within them. However, as is the case with most products that contain sugar substitutes, xylitol is once again the most widely used product, and one that can be found in a huge range of different types of products and brands.
As well as chocolate and sweets that contain sugar substitutes, also look carefully at the labels of things like low calorie, diet or diabetic popcorn and crisps too, as anything that requires sweetening without sugar may use xylitol instead.