Officials at the Food and Drug Administration issued a consumer warning this week that highlights the dangers of xylitol, a sugar substitute used widely in the food industry, for dogs of all breeds and sizes. Xylitol poses no health risk for pet owners, but dogs that accidentally consume products containing xylitol may experience severe side effects and drastically increased risk of death within the same day, according to the report.
Xylitol can be found in a myriad of pantry staples within the kitchen: some varieties of peanut butter and other nut butters may contain the ingredient, alongside baked goods, sugar-free desserts (including low-calorie and sugar-free ice cream), and items like breath mints and sugarless gum. Some health items in your medicine cabinet may also pose a risk: cough syrup, chewable vitamins, toothpaste, mouthwash, and dietary supplements are all on the FDA's warning list.
To minimize the risk of xylitol poisoning, the FDA has asked dog owners to check the label of any product they wish to feed their dog. It's even more important to keep potentially dangerous items out of reach and secure; dogs can often work their way onto sink counters where toothpaste is left out, for example. There are plenty of signs that your dog may have consumed xylitol, including vomiting, fatigue, difficulty walking or standing, and depression—more serious warning signs are seizures and falling into a coma.
These symptoms can manifest themselves within 15 to 30 minutes, FDA officials say. You should rush your dog to the vet or animal hospital immediately as recorded deaths have occurred in as little as one hour. For a full list of at-risk items and more advice from health officials, visit the FDA's public update right here.