dogs and xylitol

Help Support a Proposed Federal Law on Xylitol Label Warnings

In Dog Behavior, Dogs, pet care professional, Pet Death, Pet First Aid, Pet Industry, Pet Safety, Spring pet safety, Summer pet safety, Travel with pets, veterinarian by Cara Armour

Xylitol and the Danger to Pets

Xylitol, a popular artificial sweetener, is finding its way into an ever-expanding array of foods and health products. For a person with diabetes or someone who is watching their sugar intake, xylitol is the go-to substitute to help control diabetes or avoid sugary calories that lead to weight gain.

But to pets, especially dogs, xylitol is downright dangerous. In fact, veterinarians report that the side effects from a dog ingesting something containing xylitol is 100 times more severe than eating dark chocolate that contains another canine threat: theobromine.

Keep in mind that pets who ingest xylitol can suffer from mild to severe symptoms that include trouble walking or standing, lethargy, body tremors, vomiting, muscle weaknesses, liver failure and yes, even death. Sadly, xylitol poisoning calls to the APSCA Animal Poison Control Center continue to escalate. In 2005, 201 xylitol-related calls were documented, but in 2021, that number exceeded 6,000.

More pet parents recognize that xylitol is bad for their dogs, but may not realize that it is showing up in sugar-free peanut butter. Making matters worse, some product manufacturers simply do not include xylitol in the list of ingredients. 

That’s why I am happy to report that the American Veterinarian Medical Association has endorsed a proposed federal law that just may save your dog’s life. Paws Off Act (HR 5261) would require products containing xylitol to now display a warning label about the toxic effects it has on dogs and to some degree, cats.  The proposed law has bipartisan support with the original co-sponsors being Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona and Rep. Michael Waltz, a Republican from Florida.

“Despite the deadly harm xylitol presents to dogs and other pets, it is frequently not listed in the ingredient label in products we use on an everyday basis,” says newly-elected AVMA President Jose Arce. Dr Arce discussed other key pet issues as a recent guest on my Oh Behave Show. To listen to that episode, here’s the link:

Xylitol can be found in mouthwashes, toothpastes, cough drops, sugar-free desserts, baked goods, pudding, jams and jellies, baked goods, peanut butter and even some human medications. It may surprise you to learn that sometimes, xylitol is identified by another name – birch sugar – on the product’s list of ingredients. 

Dr. Arce says, “Ensuring pet owners are aware of the products and household items that pose a threat to their pets is a critical component of animal welfare.”

Several pet organizations are encouraging pet parents to contact their federal representatives and senators to vote for passage of this proposed law. In addition, the team at Preventive Vet ( created a petition people can sign that is being sent to all manufacturers of products containing xylitol to urge them to add a warning label on their products to protect pets. Here is the link if you wish to sign and submit: 

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