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2006 Press Releases

No Sugar Coating: Products Sweetened With Xylitol Can Be Toxic To Dogs

-Number of 2005 Xylitol-Related Cases Up More Than 150% Over Previous Year
- Sugar-free Chewing Gums, Candies, Baked Goods Among Products

ASPCA Media Contacts


Urbana, Ill., August 21, 2006—The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center cautions animal owners that xylitol, a sweetener found in certain sugar-free chewing gums, candies, baked goods and other products can potentially cause serious and even life-threatening problems for pets.

“Last year, we managed more than 170 cases involving xylitol-containing products,” says Dana Farbman, CVT and spokesperson for the Center.  “This is a significant increase from 2004, when we managed about 70.”  Barely halfway into 2006, the Center has already managed about 114 cases.  Why the increase?  “It’s difficult to say,” Farbman states.  “Xylitol products are relatively new to the United States marketplace, so one possibility may be an increase in availability.”

According to Dr. Eric Dunayer, veterinarian and toxicologist for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, dogs ingesting significant amounts of items sweetened with xylitol could develop a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, loss of coordination and seizures.  “These signs can develop quite rapidly, at times less than 30 minutes after ingestion of the product. Therefore, it is crucial that pet owners seek veterinary treatment immediately.”  Dr. Dunayer also stated that there appears to be a strong link between xylitol ingestions and the development of liver failure in dogs.

While it was previously thought that only large concentrations of xylitol could result in problems, this appears to no longer be the case.  “We seem to be learning new information with each subsequent case we manage,” says Dr. Dunayer.  “Our concern used to be mainly with products that contain xylitol as one of the first ingredients.  However, we have begun to see problems developing from ingestions of products with lesser amounts of this sweetener.”  He also says that with smaller concentrations of xylitol, the onset of clinical signs could be delayed as much as 12 hours after ingestion.  “Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that even if your pet does not develop signs right away, it does not mean that problems won’t develop later on.”

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center strongly urges pet owners to be especially diligent in keeping candy, gum or other foods containing xylitol out of the reach of pets. As with any potentially toxic substance, should accidental exposures occur, it is important to contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for immediate assistance. 


The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

About the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
Established in 1978, the APCC is the only 24-hour, 365-day facility of its kind staffed by 30 veterinarians, 12 of who are board-certified toxicologists/veterinary toxicologists. Located in Urbana, Ill., the specially trained staff provides assistance to pet owners, and specific diagnostic and treatment recommendations to veterinarians pertaining to toxic chemicals and dangerous plants, products or substances. In 2006, the center handled over 116,000 cases. The APCC also provides extensive veterinary toxicology consulting on a wide array of subjects, including legal cases, formulation issues, product liability, and regulatory reporting. For more information on potentially dangerous substances in the home or to reach the APCC, please call (888) 426-4435 or visit www.aspca.org/apcc


Founded in 1866, the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) was the first humane organization established in the Americas, and today has more than one million supporters throughout North America. A 501 [c] [3] not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. The ASPCA provides local and national leadership in animal-assisted therapy, animal behavior, animal poison control, anti-cruelty, humane education, legislative services, and shelter outreach. The New York City headquarters houses a full-service, accredited animal hospital, adoption center, and mobile clinic outreach program. The Humane Law Enforcement department enforces New York’s animal cruelty laws and is featured on the reality television series “Animal Precinct” on Animal Planet. For more information, please visit www.aspca.org.

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