A lot of people know not to give their pets chocolate, some know not to give grapes, raisins, onions, or large amounts of garlic (small amounts of garlic can be beneficial). Also, many people give peanut butter to their pets (mostly their dogs) as a treat, stuffed in a Kong toy, or with medication hidden inside. What’s wrong with that? Peanuts are fine to give to dogs and cats. Unfortunately, there is an ingredient in some brands of peanut butter that is highly toxic to dogs and cats. That ingredient is called xylitol.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is added to many human products, such as candy, mints, sugarless gum, baked goods, sugar free yogurt, and now peanut butter, as a lower calorie “natural” sweetener. In dogs and cats (not in humans), xylitol can stimulate a sudden release of insulin, causing rapid low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Severe hypoglycemia can be fatal if not treated. Xylitol can also damage the animal’s liver and, depending on how much xylitol was eaten, result in liver failure. If you believe your pet has consumed xylitol, contact a veterinarian immediately. Rapid treatment can significantly improve an animal’s prognosis.
So make sure you read the list of ingredients on any peanut butter jar, including natural peanut butters, to be sure xylitol isn’t listed before giving this tasty treat to your furry friend. And please spread the word about xylitol’s toxicity. You might save an animal’s life.