Sugar-free candy not so sweet for dogs too


Many people consider their dogs to be a part of their family, and thus include them in holiday celebrations. Some people like to dress their furry pals in costumes, while others give their dogs some special treats.

However, dog owners should be very careful about what treats they feed their dog.

It’s common knowledge that chocolate is bad for dogs. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, however, it is not the only hazardous foods for canines: avocados, bread dough, ethanol, grapes, raisins, hops, macadamia nuts, moldy foods, onions, garlic and xylitol are also on the no-feed list.

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in sugar-free candy and sugar-free gum, which is why paying close attention to dogs around the holiday season is so important.

According to a press release by the K-State News and Communication Services, the Veterinary Health Center frequently sees cases of xylitol poisoning.

“It’s more likely to happen than you think,” Dr. Susan Nelson, clinical associate professor of clinical sciences and veterinarian at the center, said. “Dogs often go rummaging through things, such as your purse or pockets, and find products with xylitol and consume them.”

Nelson said xylitol can enter the dogs’ system very quickly and symptoms of toxicity can appear as fast as 30 minutes.

“Xylitol releases insulin in dogs and causes low blood sugar,” Nelson said. “It is very difficult to reverse and can cause liver failure, blood clots and seizure.”

Nelson recommended that dog owners check the ingredient list before giving their dogs any treats or if their dog displays any symptoms of toxicity. The higher xylitol is listed on the ingredient list, the more there is in the product.

Xylitol, however, is found in several products besides sugar-free candy and sugar-free gum.

“Xylitol can be found in baked goods and some medications,” Nelson said.

Some of those medications include pain medication and anti-anxiety medication. Xylitol can also be found in nicotine gums, breath mints, antacids, multivitamins, nasal sprays, sleep aids, toothpaste and mouthwash.

Because symptoms can occur rapidly, it is best to contact a vet immediately if your dog ingests something that contains the ingredient xylitol.

“It is best to avoid giving your dog any sweets especially anything with artificial sweeteners,” Nelson said.

However, there are healthy snacks you can give your dog. Ty Holborn, manager at Manhattan Petco, said jerky, salami, chicken and turkey are some good snacks for dogs.

“Sweet potatoes are good for dogs, especially dogs with food allergies,” Holborn said.

Amber Cushenbery, certified veterinarian technician at Manhattan’s Blue Hills Animal Hospital, said dogs can also eat vegetables and fruits.

“Apples and oats are popular and good for dogs,” Cushenbery said. “Banana and peanut butter treats are also good for dogs.”