Why Your Dog is in Danger in Your Home

Photo by sarandy westfall on Unsplash

Our dog, Jackson, almost died from something common in many households. It was a typical early school morning rushing around, eating breakfast and packing lunch boxes into backpacks.

My husband handed each girl their morning vitamin, same as every morning. As one of my daughters turned around on the kitchen table bench so that I could tie her shoe, she accidentally dropped the vitamin. Before anyone could blink, Jackson grabbed it and ate it.

We thought nothing of it at first, but then I suddenly remembered reading an article only a few days before. Something about a deadly ingredient in gum that killed a large Husky dog. The article had brought me to tears, and I remember thinking, how awful that an ingredient in gum could kill a dog.

What were the chances this vitamin contained Xylitol? I quickly ran to get the vitamin bottle and frantically read the back label. XYLITOL: 2 Grams per vitamin.

Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is showing up in more and more products, but is highly toxic to dogs.

To give you an idea of how deadly this stuff is in dogs, 2 grams is enough to kill a small to medium sized dog, possibly even a large dog. Jackson is a 60 lb boxer mix, and he was in grave danger. It can be absorbed into the bloodstream in 10–15 minutes. It became a frantic race against the clock.

My husband immediately contacted the Vet and listened to their instructions. Our daughters got on the bus not sure they would see Jackson again. I tried to assure them as best as I could, but I knew that the situation was dire.

We had a little bit of luck on our side. Jackson had just eaten a big bowl of food. We were also able to get him immediate medical intervention, which saved his life. In the Vet’s office after waiting anxiously for the results of his blood work, everything came back clear. We had caught it in time. This was one of the few cases with a happy ending. However, if we had not seen it happen, and were unaware of what he consumed, we would have likely lost Jackson that day.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol and is used as a sugar substitute in certain items. It is also used in many household products. You may be questioning if it is a naturally occurring sweetener, why is it so deadly to dogs? In humans, it metabolizes correctly. However, dog’s systems don’t recognize it as a sugar substitute, causing the body to release insulin thinking it is real sugar. The result is a dangerous drop in blood sugar, which can lead to many life threatening complications, including liver failure.

What Products in your Home Contain Xylitol?

At this point you should assume that you have products in your home containing Xylitol. It is becoming increasingly popular in products. It is used in anything from peanut butter, to toothpaste, lotions, prescriptions medicines, baked goods, and everything in between.

What You Can Do to Protect Your Dog

There are currently no warnings required on products containing Xylitol to warn dog owners. Manufacturers at this time are only required to list Xylitol as an ingredient. This is why it is so important to spread the word about this hidden danger in your home. Read about it, and ask your vet for more information.

Go through your cabinets and check all labels, making sure to keep any products out of reach of your dog. From our scary experience, we learned to also keep these products away from children’s reach, or out of the house completely, as they can be inadvertently dropped, or left around. Pay attention to pocket books that may have gum or mints containing Xylitol, and keep them out of reach as well.

The danger of Xylitol in dogs is very real, and can happen in an instant. We are so grateful that Jackson was lucky that day, but it could have easily turned out much different.

Jennifer Farmer is a writer, who spends her time raising a family, and finding ways to live the healthiest life possible. You can follow her at www.grassandrootsfamily.com