Dangers of Xylitol

howard Xylitol is a sugar substitute that contains fewer calories than sugar and has anti-cavity activity. These properties make it an ideal sweetener in sugarless gum for people. It is also present in other products such as chewable vitamins, candy for diabetics, and may be used in home baking. However there is one major problem for dog owners: xylitol can be extremely toxic to dogs. Just a few grams of xylitol (as little as 8-10 pieces of sugarless gum) can cause a precipitous and life threatening drop in blood sugar in a 60 pound dog. Small dogs can be affected by even a couple of pieces. Higher amounts of xytilol can result in liver damage. Seek veterinary care immediately if you think your dog has eaten a xylitol containing product. Treatment for recent ingestion may include evacuation of the stomach and hospitalization with IV fluids containing glucose for 24 hours. Liver problems may require more involved treatment. Be sure to check the ingredient label of any sugarless gum that you buy. Avoid products that contain xylitol and keep gum up and away where your dog cannot be tempted to get into it. Enjoy the spring weather with your canine companions and stay safe! Howard Robinson, DVM

Marley

Dr. Arnold
One of the things I struggle with is balancing the passion my pets have for the constant and seemingly tireless will to go go go all day long and the concern I have that they may be overdoing it and hurting themselves. Over the course of Marley’s (“Best Dog Ever”) life I watched him swim for hours as a youngster, take a brief nap, then bring back his favorite neon frisbee for more. At one point along the Oregon Coast he plowed into the ocean,
swam through massive crashing waves and hauled in a giant log to shore… why? I have
no idea but it made him happy beyond belief and I love him for that. During these
adventures he wasn’t limping, stiff, or struggling to move. I’d put my Veterinarian hat on
and examine him… perfectly normal. How could this be… I was exhausted and my
Marley shoulder still hurt from “Frisbee Elbow”… similar to “Tennis Ball Elbow” or “Chuck-it
Shoulder”… I know some of you out there can relate to this phenomenon that occurs after
a fetching session with your furry companion(s). Over time I humbly came to grips with the
inescapable fact that Marley was aging…his body… not his mind or passion to go go go.
His hikes and play sessions were a little bit shorter. He took a little bit longer naps, and
was a little bit slower to get up. His bright eyes and big flopping tongue still matched his
typical ear to ear grin but I felt a responsibility to be an advocate for him and started paying
closer attention to managing his adventures. I also started to think about long term
implications of the wear and tear of all of our adventures. Admittedly, some of my personal
Marley beliefs affected these concerns as well. I like to be active, I love being outside, and I spend
very little time sitting still. Unfortunately, adventure is not without its aches and pains,
humans and animals alike. I was slowing down on my hikes too (not that I could ever
come close to keeping up with Marley as he ran ahead and ran back to make sure I was
still there, then ran ahead again… a five mile hike for me must have at least been a ten
mile hike for him). I was sore afterwards too. The difference was that I could advocate for
myself, take an anti-inflammatory and take proactive steps to manage my pain. Managing
pain in animals has improved leaps and bounds over the past decades. Our animals now
have the benefit of what we as veterinarians call a “multi-modal” or “multi-faceted”
approach to pain. This approach involves matching a specific pain plan to each specific
furry individual. Marley’s plan started with making sure he was at an ideal weight. I relate
this to when I hike up Horsetooth Rock with a heavy pack versus when I hike up with just
some water and no pack. I found my knees were much more sore when I went with the
heavy pack.

Chronic pain plans for animals these days may include:

  • weight loss programs
  • environmental modifications (ramps for the car or bed etc.)
  • joint supplements
  • a variety of different pain medications (more detail here in future blogs)
  • physical therapy
  • acupuncture
  • laser therapy
  • chiropractics
  • massage

I’ll chat more about Marley’s specific chronic pain plan in future blogs. I know I see a ton of
super active and outdoorsy animals (and humans) here in Colorado. Just wondering what
your thoughts are on how you manage your active pets. Anything mentioned above that
hits home with your animals? Summer is almost here and I know I’m excited to get outside
even more with our furry family members. Until next time, Thanks for reading:)
-John Arnold