Xylitol is an all-natural sugar substitute derived from beets, birch tree bark, corncobs and other natural sources. It's as sweet as sugar but has 40% fewer calories. Unlike sugar, Xylitol does not require insulin to be metabolized. The sweetner is new to the U.S. food market, so most Americans aren't aware that Xylitol can be "very, very serious" to dogs when ingested. Dana Farbman, spokeswoman for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says, "It doesn't take a whole lot and the effects are so rapid that the window of opportunity to treat the dog is extremely small." Within 30 minutes of consuming a small amount of a xylitol-sweetened product, dogs can experience a dramatic drop in blood sugar, and they usually begin vomiting, become lethargic and can have difficulty standing or walking. Some have seizures, develop internal hemorrhaging and lesions and suffer liver failure. As few as two or three sticks of xylitol gum could be toxic to a 20-pound dog, the ASPCA says. Immediate and aggressive veterinary treatment, which includes glucose drips and IV fluids, has proved effective in many cases.
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