Xylitol, a sugar substitute often recommended by dentists to their patients, is safe for humans, but extremely toxic to dogs. In fact, xylitol, which is found in chewing gum and many other food products, is 100 times as harmful to dogs as milk chocolate, reports The Wall Street Journal in a recent article.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase” in xylitol calls, said Dr. Ahna Brutlag, senior veterinary toxicologist at the Pet Poison Helpline. Her center has had 2,800 calls about known or suspected xylitol ingestion so far this year, up from 300 in 2009.
Dr. Brutlag said xylitol has become one of the most dangerous food-related poisons her staff deals with. “There are still a lot of dog owners who have never heard of xylitol, nor do they understand that something this benign, an ordinary sweetener, could be toxic to pets.”
As a dental professional, you can help spread the word to patients that all sugar-free gum and food products should be placed where pets can’t reach them.
For humans, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s official statement on xylitol “supports the use of xylitol and other sugar alcohols as non-cariogenic sugar substitutes.” However, a recent research study showed that xylitol does not have a clinical or bacterial benefit in patients with fixed orthodontic appliances.