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Dangers of Xylitol

I am going to reprint an article that I found here about the dangers of Xylitol, which is a sugar-alcohol based sweetener.

Dec 14, 2010
The Dangers of Xylitol
Most everyone knows that chocolate should be kept out of reach of pets.
There is a new threat to be concerned about.

The new types of artificial sweeteners contain ingredients even more dangerous than chocolate.

The main culprit is the artificial sweetener, Xylitol. Xylitol is found in gums like Orbit.

What makes this ingredient dangerous is that, although the human body can metabolize these complex molecules, the canine body is unable to do so. Also, it seems that once they contact Xylitol in particular, it tastes so sweet that they find it literally irresistible.

The complex unmetabolizable molecule is actually a sugar alcohol, and not a true sugar. Due to its inability to be broken down like normal sugars by the liver and pancreas in the canine body, therefore falls to the kidneys to filter it out like other unprocessable substances. However, the action of the kidneys is not enough to prevent the level of Xylitol in the blood from reaching a critical level. The animal will then experience an overdose, even from a single piece of gum. The net effect of all this leads to a Grand Mals type seizure within 24 hours of ingestion.

The animal may experience as many as 3 more seizures within a 24 hr. period. These symptoms are caused by an apparent acute onset of hypoglycemia, which causes lack of coordination, collapsing and seizure. If your pet ingests a product with Xylitol, please head straight to the nearest ER Clinic!

An Article from ASPCA:

Dog owners beware: The number of dogs harmed from ingesting xylitol, a sugar substitute used in sugar-free chewing gum, toothpaste and baked goods, is on the rise, according to a recent report from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center.

In 2003, the ASPCA recorded only three xylitol poisonings, which can cause hypoglycemia, liver failure and even death in dogs. That number skyrocketed to 70 in 2004. In 2005, there were more than 170 cases, and between January and August 2006, there have already been 114 cases reported.

Signs that your dog might have ingested products containing xylitol as a sweetener can show up quickly, sometimes within 30 minutes of eating the product. According to Dr. Eric Dunayer, a veterinarian and toxicologist for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, dogs that have ingested small amounts of xylitol might be affected but not show signs until up to 12 hours afterward. Signs your dog has ingested a product containing xylitol as a sweetener include an abrupt drop in blood sugar, vomiting, depression, loss of coordination and seizures.

If you find that your dog has consumed a product containing xylitol as a sweetener, call your veterinarian immediately. If the dog is exhibiting symptoms, take the dog to the vet’s office right away.

To prevent xylitol poisoning, dog owners should be aware of products that often contain xylitol as a sweetener, and keep those products out of reach of their dogs. They include: candy, chewing gum, breath fresheners, smoking cessation aids such as nicotine gum, toothpastes, sunscreen and some vitamins and diet supplements.

Thanks to: VETEK CHIC ON WHEELS: The Dangers of Xylitol

Some have asked me…

Why do I volunteer to answer questions for people about their pets and not get paid for it? Well, aside from the fact that not everything in life is about money, I think I can answer this question by showing you some of the feedback I get from these people who I have never met.

I get asked a lot of different questions-from “Why is my dog starting at the bottom of my rose bushes to I just lost my dog to cancer and I am feeling so guilty because…” I get asked the hardest question of all many times- “when is it time to say goodbye to my beloved pet or how will I know when it’s time?”

I have cried tears over some of these questions, some of the way people have thanked me and sometimes over the injustice that is done to cats and dogs all over the world. Some times by the owners themselves, sometimes by cruel people and sometimes just by life itself.

Here is a sampling of what makes me keep doing this:
“Comment – I am in awe with this volunteer. I did not know that there are people out there still willing to help total a total stranger. I would like to comment on how knowledgeable and caring and quick Jana is. I know now what I am doing wrong with potty training. I am so happy with this site.”

“Comment – Jana, thanks again for your help. This site needs you as you as so knowlegible and helpful! Know that your help has surely made a difference. We appreciate you and will keep you posted!”

“Comment – help me alot mostly to calm my feelings reassured well” (Her kitten died)

“Comment – Clearly Jana knows her stuff – her suggestion about possible mild pancreatitis due to eating fat was spot on even though not included in the question posed. Her suggestion on keeping a log will help to track the lizard link if there is one. Many thnx”

“Comment – I really appreciate your quick response,i will try that Hills food for my dog, you sound like you really know what your talking about, i have been on so many sites it would make your head spin! Again, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! i will let you know how it goes…”

“Comment – omg, you answered almost word-for-word what I was thinking! “Poor Boy” is what I call him each time this happens – and before contacting you this morning, I was actually surfing the net looking for a new vet.

I have tried the pumpkin and the capsule in his food – and he looks at me like I am trying to poison him. (and refuses to eat) I guess I would rather torture him once every two/three months by getting those glands squeezed, rather than torture him each and every day over his food.

Thank you again for your prompt and CARING answer! You have reconfirmed everything I was thinking…”

“Comment – Thank you So much! Not only did you answer my question directly, I felt that you really cared about my concern for my dog. Again, thank you very much.”

“Comment – Thank you, Jana, for your directness and your kind words. Unfortunately, you confirmed our fears. She has lived a long life and given us limitless love, and we will be sure she is as comfortable as possible if the time comes. Thank you again, and best wishes.”

“Comment – Thank you so much. I have asked vets for this kind of advice and have never gotten such a thorough response. I can’t wait to try this out. I will follow-up with you and let you and everyone else know how it is going!”

“Comment – It is obvious that Jana has a strong love for pets and a high desire to keep them healthy. Jana provided me with honest, great quality information that help to direct me with the care of my sick dog. Most important, Jana gave me the knowledge and confidence I need to pursue treatment. Thank you”

“Comment – Thank you very much for your empathy and comforting answer. I miss him terribly, but I take comfort in knowing that he went quickly and hopefully without much pain. Thank you again. Take care.”

“Comment – Jana’s passion for animals cam clearly be seen in the fantastic response provided. The answer was more than I could’ve expected. Thank you very much and I will keep in touch.”

That is just a few of the ones I have. It is a wonderful feeling knowing you helped some pet be healthier, or live longer, or even comforted someone who just lost their best friend.

It’s hard to lose a pet and have others around you not understand why you are grieving. I know, I have been through it before. So the questions I get about animals that have died are hit even closer to home for me.

So the next time some one asks me, “why do you do what you do..” I think about the comments that I get from the people that write to me and I know in my heart why I do what I do….

Time marches on…

I have sad news to report-I had to put down my 15 yr old cat Crouton on May 16th. She was dying of kidney failure, a much to common affliction of older cats. If a cat older than 11 doesn’t die of old age, then cancer or kidney failure will get them in the end. No one seems to know why cats suffer from this more than dogs do.

But suffer they do. There has been much speculation over protein levels, types of proteins, raw (as in mice and such) vs. commercials diets, but there is no conclusive evidence.
I can say this from a personal viewpoint based on the last 28 yrs of experience- my pets live much longer than the average pets do and I feed them all exclusively Hill’s brand products. My dog eats prescription diet W/D which is used for dogs with colitis (which she doesn’t have) and general weight control. My dog is a lean 51 lbs- two lbs more than she weighed at one year old. That is the ideal weight. She is 11 but runs and acts like she is 6. Today, however, she is very depressed as I am. She picked up on my sorrow at 7 am this morning and hasn’t been the same all day. But she will be fine. (that was written on May 16th).

My other cat Floyd, lived to be 19 yrs and one month and he lived on K/D which is a prescription kidney diet that I started him on at 10 yrs old to stave off any kidney failure. While ultimately his kidneys did stop functioning, at 19 it’s hard to argue with the fact the food had to have helped him live a long life. Crouton was 15 and healthy until one week ago. Cameo, my beloved dog that I lost in 2005, lived to be almost 16 and she was a fairly large dog. She also came to me at 5 yrs of age loaded with heartworms and had never had a vaccination. Even after two rounds of brutal treatment to kill the heartworms, she still outlived her breed norm.

That leaves me with Zinnia, or Zinny as we call her, my daughter’s 7 yr old cat. She eats Active Longevity food by Science Diet. So did Crouton. It was so close in composition to K/D that I opted for the lesser in cost bag.

On another note…

I took my dog in a week ago to be looked at because I found her UNDER my daughters bed and she is WAY to big to get under a bed. Watching her claw her way out from under the bed just floored me that she was under there at all. The vet thought she had some back pain but she had gotten that from crawling under and out from the bed.

Now when a dog or cat hides under a bed I immediately think that something is wrong. Turned out she was freaking out over a lightening and thunder storm that was many miles from me but she could still hear it. As soon as the weather cleared up (that night) she was fine.

So I will close with this reminder to keep an eye on your dogs during these storms. I have known of German Shepherds going straight through plate glass windows during a storm because they were so stressed over the noise and thunder. If you have a pet that is really anxious during these times, it is much safer for the pet to sedate them at home and keep them in a quiet bedroom, then it is to keep them ‘drug free’ and have them injure themselves over this.
Talk to you vet beforehand about getting and keeping some sedatives on had at home for this very situation.

Until we meet again, have a great now! Please feel free to ask any questions and leave comments.

Crouton 2008

Rest in peace my beautiful Crouton

What is a Vet Tech anyway?

What exactly is a Vet Tech? I have heard this asked many times and I am not sure that the question is ever answered out there in the general public.

Most people do not know what a Vet Tech is or what we do. But if you ever take your pet into a veterinary clinic and had some one come into the exam room and take your pet’s temperature, look over their gum color, weighs them and do a cursory exam, then you have probably just met the Vet Tech at that hospital.

Now in many hospitals, and unfortunately in many of them here in my county, there are not enough licensed technicians to work and so the ‘kennel help’ is trained to do these things by the vet or another team member in the back room. Can they do the job correctly? Sometimes. Is it legal for them to do the job of a licensed technician? In a word, no.
Continue Reading »

Hello all you pet lovers!

Hello everyone!

This will be my newest blog about Pet Care. I am a Registered Veterinary Technician and I practiced for over 35 yrs total. I was forced to retire in 2000 from a serious back injury sustained on the job but I am still licensed and keep current in all aspects of veterinary medicine.

So what’s this blog about? It’s about tips and ideas for pet care. It’s about columns I will write about topics that I am passionate about- how to properly care for your furry house-mates and friends.

I want feedback from you- I want your ideas. I can give you advice about problems your pet may be having but I will not diagnose something for you- only a licensed vet can do that. With that in mind you will hear me tell you to go straightaway to the vet’s many times.

Any advice given in here is not a substitute for veterinary care and must be taken as is for that reason. YOU are responsible for your pet’s health- don’t skimp on it. In this day of economic crunches and crisis we are seeing an alarming rate of pet abandonment. Horses being abandoned and left to die or taken to shelters is up over 300% alone! Shelters are being flooded with pets being relinquished by well-meaning owners that have lost jobs, houses, families.

Most of these animals could have stayed with their families with some forethought and sometimes some help. It is a very sad situation indeed.

I advocate and stress shelter adoptions!! If you are breeding a mutt then you are being very irresponsible and I will let you know that. Some people reading this blog might get mad at me as animals bring out a lot of emotions in people.

Either way, I will be telling it the way it is! So send me some questions or ask about whatever it is you want to know about your pet and I will attempt to give you an answer that you can use, BUT DO NOT USE THIS SITE AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR TAKING YOUR PET IN TO SEE A VET WHEN IT IS SICK!! I DO NOT CHECK THIS BLOG DAILY AND IF YOU WAIT FOR AN ANSWER FROM ME WHILE YOUR PET IS SICK YOU COULD BE RISKING THEIR LIFE!! I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH.


So join me now and then for a lot of information and some laughs too.

Take care and until then have a great now!

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