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Ask Your Vet: Peanut Butter Safety Warning by Stefanie Wong, DVM
September 27, 2015

Check the label carefully: certain peanut butters may be toxic for your pet!

 

Breaking News: We just learned that xylitol, a sugar substitute most commonly seen in sugar-free gum and other sugar-free products, is now showing up in peanut butter and other nut butters. Five companies that we know of add xylitol to their peanut butters: Go Nuts, Hank’s Protein Plus Peanut Butter, Krush Nutrition, Nuts ‘n More and P28.

 

The ASPCA has contacted the above companies to notify them of the risk their product has to pets, and also in an effort to learn the exact xylitol concentration within their products. The hope is that a warning label can be placed on these products notifying pet owners that they cannot safely be used for pets. If you have any of the above products in your household, do not give this to your pet!

 

Xylitol can also be found in sugar-free mints, chewable vitamins, toothpastes, baked goods, cereals, beverages like sodas and can be used as a substitute for sugar for baking. While completely safe for people, it unfortunately can lead to serious and in some cases life threatening complications for dogs that ingest it.

 

Xylitol causes insulin to be released, which in turns causes blood sugar to plummet. This can lead to a very serious low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. Symptoms often seen related to this are weakness, unstable or drunken gait, collapse and seizures. The more serious, and thankfully rare complication of xylitol ingestion is toxicity to the liver. Elevated liver enzymes can be seen following xylitol ingestion and some cases may progress to acute liver failure. This can be fatal. Symptoms associated with this are unfortunately non-specific: lethargy, anorexia, vomiting and diarrhea. Bloodwork will show sky high, or even off the chart liver values.

 

Xylitol acts quickly – if your pet has ingested a product containing it, we recommend bringing them in ASAP to induce vomiting to try to empty their stomach. We will typically also run bloodwork to check their blood sugar and liver enzymes. If your pet is hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) or has ingested a significant amount of xylitol, we will recommend they be hospitalized for IV fluids and additional treatment.

 

Xylitol can appear under other names as well - the ASPCA Poison Control Center recommends checking the label for any ingredient that contains the letters “xyl.” Other commonly listed names are: 1,4-anhydro-d-xylitol, anhydroxylitol, birch bark extract, birch sugar, d-xylitol, xylite, xylitylglucoside and Zylatol.

 

For a list of products that contain xylitol, a list is maintained here  - http://www.preventivevet.com/xylitol-products-toxic-for-dogs

 

The majority of peanut butters out there are still safe, however please check the label carefully before offering any to your pet.




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