Posted in dogs, ferrets, pet health, pets

Do you read me?

Not everyone reads my column, I know. I’m usually pleasantly surprised to hear who admits to taking a Paws break. My veterinarians. Friends from high school. Distant cousins.
They usually say they’ve learned something new from reading it.
Sometimes I hesitate covering a topic I’ve introduced before, wanting to offer a new column each time. But some topics warrant a followup. My editor recently handed me a letter with something “new” about xylitol being toxic to dogs and ferrets. I have mentioned xylitol toxicity before in December 2010, October 2008, and October 2007.
Does it deserve to be said again? Yes, because the fact that artificial sweeteners may poison your dog or ferret (and possibly other animals), is important to know.
The issue with xylitol is that it affects blood sugar levels, causing severely low blood sugar which can lead to coma and death. While humans can tolerate the sweetener, in some animals it causes insulin to be released in great quantities. Xylitol can also cause irreversible liver damage.
Reading product labels is very important. Xylitol can be found in sugar-free gum, some baked goods, and other foods. It’s also used in products that you and I would never consider eating, like paint balls and toothpaste.
But a curious pet can get into things it shouldn’t, when you least expect it.
Just a few sticks of sugar-free gum can kill a small dog.
If you know that your pet has eaten something that contains xylitol, call your veterinarian immediately. You may be told to encourage your pet to vomit whatever it has eaten, (another reason to have a first aid kit around the house that’s tailored to your pet’s needs in an emergency).
The sooner you get your pet to the vet, the better chance your pet has of surviving.
Be proactive and read those product labels, and remember even non-food items can have xylitol in them.
Keep anything containing xylitol out of reach of your pet. Even used chewing gum should go in a garbage can that can’t be overturned and pawed through.
I’ve always been curious. I read just about everything I can get my hands on. Although my column now appears in the Democrat every other week, I hope to keep on top of things that may affect your pet’s well-being, so that you can read about it here first.

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Owned by three cats over age 13