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Are sweeteners poisonous to dogs?

Shiba Inu sat in the kitchen advice

If your dog ate xylitol, they must see a vet

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Artificial sweeteners have a very bad effect on our four-legged friends. Here's why.

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS

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Sweeteners may be harmless to humans but to dogs, they can cause all sort of problems, from bad stomachs to even killing them. So you shouldn't be giving them to your dog. And if you're not sure at all what foods contain them, you should be checking the packaging for its list of ingredients, just to be sure.

Why are artificial sweeteners bad for dogs?

Although we are both mammals, dogs have evolved a different metabolism and digestive tract to people. This means there are foods that we can eat that are bad for dogs, such as artificial sweeteners. Ideally a dog will not be fed anything sugary or which contains sweeteners, as this can lead to a whole range of health problems, including obesity, gastrointestinal problems and metabolic disorders. It can also lead to behavioural problems, if your pet is holding out for high sugar foods or treats, and won’t eat their pet food.

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Is artificial sweetener really bad for dogs?

Some artificial sweeteners such as xylitol are really toxic to dogs and can even be fatal. Others are less harmful but can still cause stomach upset if consumed, particularly in larger amounts. You should avoid feeding any sweeteners to your pet. If they eat something by accident, contact a vet.

What should I do if my dog ate a sweetener?

If your dog ate xylitol, they must see a vet as an emergency. Check the list of ingredients on the back of the packet for any variations of its name, including E967, birch sugar, xylitol and meso-xylitol (among others).

It is also worth contacting a vet if your pet has eaten a large quantity of another type of sweetener. If your pet has eaten a small amount of a different sweetener, then you are probably OK to monitor them at home for now. They may have vomiting or diarrhoea, so keep them in an area that is set up with newspapers just in case. You should also ensure that there is plenty of fresh water available. If they develop any other symptoms or they have excessive vomiting and diarrhoea, then contact a vet practice for advice.

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What happens if a dog eats xylitol or another sweetener?

Xylitol is very toxic and can have an affect on a dog as quickly as within 30 minutes. It has a really strong affect on your dog’s insulin levels, which leads to dangerously low blood sugar levels. This can sometimes progress to liver failure and can even impact blood clotting. Symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) include weakness, lack of coordination, depression, vomiting, seizures and even coma.  

Your pet must see a vet straight away, if they have consumed xylitol, regardless of whether they are currently showing any symptoms. The vet might induce vomiting, if fewer than four hours has passed since your pet ate the sweetener. Most pets also require veterinary hospitalisation for blood glucose monitoring and therapy such as IV fluids. They might also have blood tests to check for liver damage.

If your dog eats another brand or type of sweetener, then they are likely to be fine, but may still have vomiting or diarrhoea. If they are showing any other symptoms or they are vomiting excessively, then they should have a check-up at the vets.

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What sweeteners are toxic or dangerous to dogs?

Xylitol is particularly dangerous to dogs and can even cause death. If your dog accidentally consumes something that contains xylitol, you should contact a vet practice as an emergency. Most other sweeteners are not good for your pet, but should not cause a serious health problem. They are likely to cause gastrointestinal upset (vomiting and diarrhoea), especially if consumed in larger quantities.

Is erythritol poisonous to dogs?

Erythritol is not considered to be overly poisonous to dogs, although it can irritate their stomach and cause vomiting, so really it should not be fed to them.

Is Stevia harmful to dogs?

Ideally, avoid feeding your dog Stevia, Yet it is not considered harmful in small quantities. If they eat too much of it, this can cause diarrhoea.

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Does Activia yogurt contain xylitol?

The ingredients of specific products change regularly. It is best to check the list of ingredients or contact the manufacturer. If in doubt, do not feed your pet anything that has not been designed specifically for their consumption.

Does Jif peanut butter contain xylitol?

Please check the list of ingredients. If in doubt, do not feed this to your pet. It is always best to use non-sweetened peanut butter, if you want to use this as a training aid, but only in small quantities.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

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Worried about your pet?

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