Monday, December 13, 2010

Another reminder of the dangers of Xylitol..

One of our jobs as pet owners is taking responsibility for the health and safety of our pets. We are their caretakers - they cannot speak for themselves and they can't read ingredient labels. I feel the need to repeat this again and again - perhaps because I'm not teaching basic classes anymore and thus don't get to do my "things your dog shouldn't eat" speech. Right up there on that list is Xylitol toxicity - and by toxicity I mean "your dog eats one piece of gum and he's going to die unless he gets immediate attention" kinda toxicity.

The reminder comes following the death of a "friend's" (ahhh, the wonders of facebook) dog. Not an obedience dog, not an agility dog - just a pet that lived in a house with a couple of kids, probably a couple of cats and a hamster too. Typical suburban upper-middle class family, a woman who liked to chew gum, kept a pack in her purse and left her purse on the coffee table. Something she'd done before hundreds if not thousands of times without a problem - except for this time. This time "Rover" got into her purse. Chewed up her lipstick, shredded some receipts, ate the toddler's cheerios and mom's Trident gum.

All Trident brand gums contain
Xylitol.
No one realized that Rover had ingested the gum until the next morning when the damage was too severe for the dog to be saved....This isn't an uncommon story - lots and lots of dogs have died - or nearly so - from ingesting gum containing Xylitol. So why isn't anyone doing something about it?

Xylitol is primarily a sweetner, but is also known to prevent tooth decay - other artificial sweeteners don't have this property. So - all those trident "chew your mouth clean" slogans are leveraging the properties of Xylitol over other products like Phenylalanine (a sugar free sweetener found in some gums). Some brands are exclusively Xylitol-free, some only use Xylitol based sweeteners.

Wrigley's Orbit (my favorite flavor is "sweet 
mint" which tastes like mint ice cream) 
DOES NOT contain Xylitol.
Your responsibility it to be an informed consumer - if you MUST buy gums with Xylitol you need to be a responsible global citizen and dispose of your used gum properly. You also need to be aware of the content and don't even bring that gum into homes where there are dogs. "Rover's" owners didn't know about the danger. They knew about chocolate and grapes. They knew about onions too. They didn't have a clue that they were bringing poison into the house every evening. I chew gum - I always have a couple of packs in the car (and I spend so much time in my car these days) and one at my desk at work. EVERY TIME (and I do mean EVERY TIME) I purchase a pack of gum I verify the ingredients. I will not buy products with Xylitol - I won't take the risk - because you just never know.

Gums that contain Xylitol (not a complete list - always check labels):
ALL flavors of Trident
B-Fresh
Spry

Gums that typically do not contain Xylitol (not a complete list - always check labels):
Orbit (by Wrigley)
Dentyne
Eclipse (Wrigley)
Juicy Fruit (Wrigley)
Extra

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