It’s often used to reward good behaviour or keep canines still at bath time, but vets have issued an urgent warning that peanut butter can kill.
With more healthier alternatives on supermarket shelves than ever before, a switch to a low-sugar peanut butter option could be detrimental to four-legged family members.
“A new type of peanut butter (and other nut butters) is being sold with less sugar, but now includes xylitol as a sweetener,” The Mobile Vet Nurse wrote in a Facebook post which has since gone viral.
“This is what is used in sugarless gum and it can be deadly to dogs.”
“Many people use peanut butter as a dog treat or to fill a Kong or disguise medications.
“If they now use the type with xylitol it could be very dangerous.”
The vet warns that poisoning by xylitol, which may also be referred to as wood sugar, birch sugar or birch bark extract, can start within 20 minutes.
“Xylitol poisoning can KILL your dog,” the clinic wrote.
“Every second counts!”
The Facebook post has since been shared more than 12,000 times, with hundreds of users responding in alarm that they didn’t know of the danger.
A deadly dose of insulin
“Xylitol stimulates an insulin release in dogs which means the more xylitol the dog gets, the greater their blood sugar will drop,” Dr Tim Hopkins from the Small Animal Specialist Hospital told Yahoo News Australia.
“It is like getting an overdose of insulin.
“And just like in a diabetic patient, that could make them very, very sick and send them into a coma or even die.”
While the level of toxicity would depend on how much a dog ate and its weight, Dr Hopkins warned that as little as 75 milligrams per kilogram would have an effect.
And if a dog consumed enough xylitol, it could die within half an hour.
“If it was in something palatable and easily digestible like peanut butter then it would occur quickly so within about 30 minutes,” he said.
“Initially you might see signs of weakness or wobbliness but vomiting can also be seen prior to central nervous system depression and then seizures and coma eventually.”
Seek help ASAP
Dr Hopkins says anyone whose dog eats a product with xylitol in it should get to their local vet or a veterinarian emergency centre immediately.
He also advises calling the Australian Animal Poison Centre while on the way.
Xylitol can also be found in sugar-free gum, mints, desserts and jams, as well as personal hygiene products such as mouthwashes, oral rinses, toothpastes.
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