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Xylitol: a danger to cats

Xylitol: a danger to cats

Posted by Patricia on 17th Apr 2022

Someone concerned about sugar consumption has probably considered using xylitol. It's a good sugar substitute for humans, but it's harmful to animals.

Xylitol is an artificial, plant-based sweetener discovered decades ago and now used in many everyday "human" items, including moisturizing cream, gum, hard candies, baked goods, peanut butter, drink powders, pudding, ketchup, barbecue sauces, pancake syrups, even medications like chewable or gummy vitamins. The problem for pets is xylitol is frequently not listed on product warning labels, so pet guardians are unaware the product contains a substance that can harm their dogs and cats.

It's all about the insulin. Xylitol causes a minimal insulin release in people, but even just a bit can result in a sudden release of insulin in dogs or cats. This creates low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, which can cause grave illness. While the amount of insulin released is greater in dogs than in cats, the latter fur child is still in peril if xylitol is ingested. Veterinarians say ingestion of xylitol can lead to seizures and coma and should be treated as an emergency

Groups including The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) have been working to help educate and protect consumers with pets about the danger of xylitol. They've been behind the push for Capitol Hill to create legislation that would require food containing xylitol to bear a warning specifying the toxic effects on pets.

The bill was named the Paws Off Act of 2021 and identified as H.R. 5261. Sponsored by David Schweikert, Republican Representative for Arizona's 6th congressional district, Paws Off Act of 2021 has nine other cosponsors. However, it is currently stalled in committee, and its chances of passage are guarded. Concerned organizations are encouraged to submit position statements to the lawmakers involved. In addition, cat parents and veterinary professionals are encouraged to help revive the bill in the 2022 session by writing or calling the sponsoring lawmakers and those in their home districts.

For the past few years, xylitol poisoning calls to the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center have increased. So what can you do to protect your cat or dog? First, check the labels of everything you purchase for your household. Next, ask your doctor or pharmacist if your medications contain xylitol. Finally, don't forget to check for terms on labels like "sugar alcohol," as that's often xylitol in disguise. Once you know the offending products, you can ensure your pet doesn't get access to the deadly xylitol within.


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Pet Health Network

Government Tracker of Legislation

H.R. 5261 — 117th Congress: Paws Off Act of 2021 2021

April 15, 2022