Many dogs enjoy peanut butter as an occasional treat, a way to take their medications, or as a puzzle to chew out of a toy. But dog lovers need to be aware that some brands are using xylitol in place of sugar to sweeten their peanut and other nut butters.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is found in toothpaste, sugarless gum, some baked goods, berries, plums, corn, oats, mushrooms, lettuce, and some other fruits. While it is perfectly safe for humans, it is not safe for dogs.
Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs, even in small amounts. It can cause dangerous dips in blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia), seizures, liver failure, and death.
While it has only been identified in a handful of brands of peanut and nut butter, make a habit of checking labels regularly. Xylitol is becoming more popular in food products because it is actually beneficial for human dental health, as well as being a safer sweetener for people with diabetes.
Since it is approved for consumption by humans, xylitol doesn’t need to be called out in any special way, making it important to check the ingredients listed on the labels.
If you suspect your dog has eaten xylitol, call your veterinarian immediately. If it is outside your veterinarian’s hours, you can contact the Pet Poison Helpline for assistance (there is a fee for this service – visit their website for details).