Thursday, July 8, 2010

Human Products Can Be Unsafe for Dogs

Our culture has come to accept that some foods and products not intended for dogs are nonetheless safe, and in adopting this way of thinking we expose our four legged family members to more consumer goodies that have the potential to cause great harm (whether accidentally or on purpose).

Despite the outcry of the ASPCA’s poison control unit, more and more manufacturers continue to accept Xylitol’s (a so called natural sweetener) luring charms. Recently two companies changed their formulations to include Xylitol in several of their products. Flintstones in some of their kids’ vitamins and Starbucks in some of their mints. Neither company went out of its way to warn its unsuspecting customers of their addition of Xylitol.

This is a major concern because for years many breeders and pet owners have given or recommended Flintstones as an inexpensive multivitamin alternative for canines. Many have relied on children's chewable vitamins as a safe and effective product for their pets.

The problem with Xylitol is not merely its existence in products (gums, candies, Jello, cupcakes, cookies, muffins, toothpaste, mouthwash etc.). The predicament it causes also lies in the cunning nature of its exposure when pet owners don’t realize that human products they used to use safely for their pets (or exposed their pets to accidentally) are no longer safe.

Awhile back if Rover scarfed up a couple of Tic-Tacs that dropped on the rug, who'd care, right? You certainly didn’t call a veterinary emergency clinic to determine the lethal dose of Tic-Tacs and whether immediate medical treatment was impending. But now that Tic-Tacs harbor Xylitol, would you even know to worry? Here's a fact you should know, the ASPCA’s poison control reports that Tic-Tacs poison more dogs than any other product, partly as a consequence of their extra-high Xylitol levels and partly the result of manufactures adding it to almost everything on the market.

Who's the newest loser to adopt Xylitol -
Bach's Rescue Remedy, yep, ya heard that right. The highly recommended flower remedy product that calms our dogs’ hyper anxiety comes from a company who can't seem to resist the temptation to add to the Xylitol dog-pile.

Rescue Remedy 'pastilles' product contains this deadly-for-dogs ingredient. However, the good news is that its other products are safe and have not been tainted by this sweetener’s potential canine-toxic effects. Bach advocates its flower essences safe for veterinary use and even has a pamphlet for pets. I am inclined to think Bach should halt its use of Xylitol or at least apply appropriate information on their website and product warning labels (ones you can read without a magnifying glass). Store owners who sell their products should also be educated and informed so they can give reliable product recommendations. Or at least warn the unsuspecting public that Rescue Remedy 'pastilles' have the potential to seriously harm or cause death to dogs.

Beware And Be Informed
The real responsibility lies with the people who own the pets. It is our duty to keep informed so that we can protect them and keep them safe. The best way to do this is to read the labels (even if it says ALL NATURAL) on EVERYTHING. Not just once, but EVERY TIME you purchase ANY product. The product or food that is safe today could change it formula and become deadly tomorrow!

What other names is Xylitol known by?
Birch Sugar, E967, Xylit, Meso-Xylitol, Xylite, and xylo-pentane-1,2,3,4,5-pentol. Today, using corn sources, most world supplies of Xylitol reportedly come primarily from China.

How Much Xylitol Is Dangerous for Dogs?
The hypoglycemic dose of xylitol for dogs is considered to be approximately 0.1 grams per kilogram of body weight (about 0.045 grams per pound). A typical stick of gum contains 0.3 to 0.4 grams of xylitol, which means that a 10 lb dog could be poisoned by as little as a stick and a half of gum.

The dose to cause hepatic necrosis (liver failure) is 1 gram per kilogram of body weight, about ten times more than the above dose. In the example above, the 10 lb dog would have to find an unopened package of gum and eat it for liver destruction to occur.

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