Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sugar Substitute

May Be Dangerous to Dogs

(SCHAUMBURG, Ill.) September 29, 2006—If you think it’s no big deal that your dog just ate some sugar-free gum or a cookie or two, think again. You may want to make an immediate trip to your veterinarian. While veterinarians have suspected that the sugar substitute xylitol can make dogs sick, there is now further clinical evidence of an association between the product and possible liver failure in canines.

A clinical report appearing in the Oct. 1 Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) discusses the sometimes fatal conditions developed by dogs that have ingested xylitol. Xylitol, a sweetener found in many sugar-free chewing gums, candies, baked goods and toothpastes, is a naturally occurring product, but it may have far-reaching negative health effects on dogs.
While not all pets become ill after eating xylitol, veterinarian Sharon Gwaltney-Brant said the public – and especially dog owners – needs to be aware of the potential dangers. She added that pet owners should make sure that products containing xylitol are kept away from dogs. If an owner suspects that their dog has eaten products containing xylitol, they should contact their veterinarian immediately.

In the report, Drs. Dunayer and Gwaltney-Brant, staff members at the Animal Poison Control Center of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Urbana, Ill., used the Control Center’s database to gather information on eight dogs that were treated between 2003 and 2005 after eating products containing xylitol. Each dog became ill, and while three of the dogs survived, five of the pets either died or had to be euthanized because of liver failure possibly stemming from xylitol ingestion. Dr. Gwaltney-Brant said three other dogs that ingested xylitol after the study was conducted either died or had to be euthanized after becoming ill. All three, Dr. Gwaltney-Brant said, had liver failure.

Dr. Gwaltney-Brant described the potential negative xylitol effects on dogs as a “species difference.” “People only absorb a certain percentage of it,” she said. “The body doesn’t even notice it. However, in dogs, xylitol triggers significant insulin release, which drops the blood sugar. It is definitely a species difference. People aren’t in danger from sugar-free gum; dogs are.” There is no information on whether severe xylitol poisoning has occurred in cats, Dr. Gwaltney-Brant said. “If we get exposures, we have blood sugar checked as a precaution,” she said.

Dogs, however, are potentially at risk. And while further studies need to be conducted to definitively establish a cause-and-effect relationship between xylitol ingestion by dogs and liver damage and bleeding disorders, Dr. Gwaltney-Brant hopes the message gets out.

The number of xylitol-related pet poisonings is on the rise, according to Dr. Gwaltney-Brant, partly because of increased awareness, but more so because xylitol is being used in more products. The incidence of reported xylitol poisonings climbed from 70 in 2004 to 170 in 2005. As of August, the Poison Control Center reported 114 cases of xylitol poisoning this year.

Dates to Remember - For more information, please check the website, www.talkwithyouranimals.com, click on the link, Joy's Schedule or email Martha@talkwithyouranimals.com.

Saturday & Sunday, October 7 & 8 - Intermediate Animal Communication Class (Basic Class is a pre-requisite)

Saturday & Sunday, October 14 & 15 - Canine Fest, Puyallup, WA

Saturday, October 28 - Naturally 4 Paws, Silverdale, WA

Saturday & Sunday, November 4 & 5 - Basic Animal Communication Class

Saturday & Sunday, November 11 & 12 - The Gathering, Lynnwood, WA

In regards to The Gathering, Joy has been given a ticket worth $295. She would like to give it to someone. If you would like a chance to attend this event for free, please send an e-mail with your name, address and telephone number to Martha@talkwithyouranimals.com. Towards the end of October there will be a drawing to see who wins the ticket. For more information regarding this event, please check out the website, www.thegathering.cc.


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