by Dr. Dorrie Jordan, DVM
Dogs loves peanut butter and it is a great treat, right? The answer to that is it depends on the peanut butter. Check the label and see if xylitol has been added. If it is in your peanut butter, do not give it to your dog.
Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetener which is added to a large number of products from human toothpaste, to sugar-free gum, and breath mints, to peanut butter. While it doesn’t appear to affect people, xylitol, even in small amounts, causes a severe drop in blood sugar levels in dogs and in larger amounts, can cause major liver damage, and death.
Symptoms from xylitol toxicity may occur within 10 to 15 minutes, or may take days to appear. These symptoms include weakness, collapse, tremors, seizures, vomiting, jaundice, black and tarry stools, coma, and death.
Vomiting should be induced as long as your dog is not extremely weak or seizuring. You should take your dog to your veterinarian for treatment and tests. Blood tests to check blood sugar levels and liver involvement will be run to help confirm the diagnosis and level of toxicity. Intravenous fluids to support blood sugar levels and flush out the system, as well as monitoring of your pet may be needed. If there has not been any liver damage, and the low blood sugar level has been treated quickly, your dog’s long term outlook is good. If liver damage has occurred, the long term outlook may be less favorable.
While current knowledge does not show that cats are susceptible to this toxicity, you may want to err on the safe side and keep these products away from your cat as well.
Xylitol can be found in unlikely products, so the take home message here is to read labels carefully. Anything containing xylitol should be kept away from pets who might be tempted by the sweet taste to eat it and get sick. If you think your pet has eaten a substance containing xylitol, contact your veterinarian or pet poison control hotline immediately.
For more information about ASPCA Poison Control: