An acquaintance recently shared a story about his dog eating several packets of Splenda. His wife, who was at home with their newborn, phoned him at work in a panic. She was worried their dog had been poisoned. He admitted he consulted Dr. Google instead of his veterinarian. Based on the information found on Google, he assured his wife their dog would be fine. He did not tell her his fingers were crossed hoping Google was right.
This is a familiar story. Pets commonly get into potentially harmful food or substances. My own personal experience involved grapes voluntarily given to our toy poodle, Rugby. Unaware grapes pose a danger and can cause kidney failure in dogs, I gave one to Rugby which he ate with gusto.
When my husband, a veterinarian, arrived home, I told him how much Rugby liked grapes. After questioning me about the quantity of grapes consumed, he calmly explained they can be toxic to dogs. Since we were leaving town the following day and Rugby would be in boarding, my husband made the decision to immediately take him to our clinic to induce vomiting and treat him for potential poisoning. Thankfully, everyone was okay, although it took some time for Rugby to forgive my husband and a bit longer for me to forgive myself for being so careless. However, I learned a valuable lesson. Always check to make sure any food or treats are safe and appropriate before sharing with pets.
Another common source of poisoning in dogs is Xylitol. Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance widely used as a sugar substitute. It is found in many products including sugar-free gum, candies, breath mints, baked goods, pudding snacks, cough syrup, children’s chewable or gummy vitamins and supplements, mouthwash and toothpaste. It can also be found in nasal sprays, laxatives, digestive aids, allergy medicines, and human prescription medications. While safe for human consumption, Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. Small amounts of this substance can cause hypoglycemia, seizures, liver failure and death in dogs.
Sugar free gum is the most common source of Xylitol poisoning in dogs. Dr. Sam Meisler says, “When a dog gets in to sugar free chewing gum, it’s a real heartbreaker because many of them die from liver failure.” If you have any product containing Xylitol in your home, it should be stored in a safe and secure location out of reach of your pet.
If you suspect your pet has ingested something potentially poisonous, call your veterinarian and the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline immediately. They are the best source of up to date information and will advise you on the appropriate course of action. You should not induce vomiting in your pet unless advised by your veterinarian to do so. While Google is full of interesting and entertaining information, some may not be entirely factual. It is important your pet receive prompt medical attention if you suspect she has ingested a harmful substance. Not only is it less dangerous for your pet it will ultimately be less expensive.