March is Pet Poison Awareness Month - it's also a time assess how we're doing on our New Year's resolution to improve our diets! For many of us, that means cutting our sugar intake. But a common sugar substitute called xylitol can be deadly for our dogs and cats.
Xylitol is a natural, sugarless sweetener found in many sugar free gums, candies, mints and snacks. Those sugar free gelatin and pudding cups kids love probably contain xylitol and should never be shared with pets. Additionally, xylitol is often used to sweeten vitamins, supplements, mouthwash and toothpaste! Clinical signs of xylitol toxicity include stomach upset, tremors, lethargy, collapse, seizures and jaundice. Left untreated, the condition can lead to liver failure and death. Since items containing xylitol often make their way into handbags, a good rule of thumb is to keep purses and backpacks where pets can not reach them, and instruct all guests to do the same.