By thepetclin3276607, Jul 30 2015 08:57PM
We have recently heard about the addition of xylitol to certain brands of peanut butter, and we, here at The Pet Clinic, wanted to give you the inside scoop on this potentially toxic ingredient! dvm360 Magazine published a great article on these recent findings (click here to read the full article). Here's a summary of the information from their article and why you should be concerned as a pet owner!
Xylitol, a popular natural sweetener found in many foods (sugar-free gum, toothpaste, desserts, baked goods, etc.) and known to be toxic to dogs and cats, is now also found in several specialty peanut and nut butter brands. Nuts ‘n More, Krush Nutrition and P-28 Foods all make peanut butter and nut-based spreads containing the ingredient.
Xylitol has been used in many food products for years, but its presence in certain peanut and other nut butters recently is cause for concern for pet owners. Many pet owners use peanut butter as a treat, or even as a tasty, convenient way to administer their pets' medications. But, what once was considered a safe treat (used in moderation) could be toxic or potentially deadly when containing this ingredient. Pet owners will now need to be especially vigilant about checking ingredient labels before offering any product to their pets.
Xylitol toxicity in pets can lead to severe low blood sugar and sudden liver failure within 72 hours of ingestion. Some pets may exhibit no symptoms until severe liver damage has already occurred. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, collapse, seizure, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and mucus membranes), bruising, hemorrhage, and more. (Click here for more information on the effects of xylitol ingestion in dogs, courtesy of ASPCA Animal Poison Control center). Chances of recovery vary depending on the individual animal, amount ingested, and response to supportive care treatment. Chances of recovery are poor if significant liver damage has already occurred when treatment begins.
According to a recent article published by dvm360 Magazine (see full article here), so far, mainstream peanut butter brands have not started using xylitol - only the three specialty brands include it in their formulations. Because toxicity is based on the amount ingested, it’s helpful to know the concentration of xylitol found in these products. But as of July 15, 2015, only one (P-28 Foods) had released its concentration information to Pet Poison Helpline. According to their reports, a 10 pound dog need only ingest 0.8 ounces of that particular brand of peanut butter to receive a potentially toxic amount.
So, how can you be sure the penaut butter in your own pantry is xylitol-free and safe for your pets? Check labels carefully. The most obvious thing to look for is the word 'xylitol' itself, but other terms may be used that indicate its presence in the product. It is a common misconception that xylitol is an artificial sweetener, but it is actually a natural sweetener, usually found in small amounts in fruits and vegetables. As a result, product labels that read, 'sweetened naturally,' 'natural sweetener,' 'no artificial sweeteners,' etc. may contain xylitol. If you see these terms, look more closely at the ingredients to see if xylitol is listed. Since xylitol is classified as a 'sugar alcohol,' this is another phrase that should alert you to look more closely at the ingredients. However, not all food labels list which sugar alcohol is used. “When in doubt, if you want to feed a product to your dog that lists ‘sugar alcohol’ as an ingredient, but doesn’t list which one, don’t use it,” Dr. Ahna Brutlag (DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT, associate director of veterinary services for Pet Poison Helpline and SafetyCall International) advises. Because xylitol and other sugar alcohols are not technically sugar, they may also be found in products labeled 'sugar free' or 'no sugar added.'
James, Katie. DVM360 Magazine. "Xylitol now found in certain peanut and nut butters." July 2015. http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/xylitol-now-found-certain-peanut-and-nut-butters.
Dunayer, D. "New findings on the effect of xylitol ingestion in dogs." Veterinary Medicine. December 2006. http://www.aspcapro.org/sites/pro/files/xylitol.pdf.