In today’s digital age, information can spread more easily than ever. We can essentially have portable computers in our bags or pockets all the time. Sometimes, that is very helpful. But other times that makes us vulnerable to falsehoods. Misconceptions, incomplete stories, or outright lies can circulate rapidly. One topic spreading quickly online is the peanut butter alert for pets.
The warning in question reads as follows: “A new type of peanut butter (and other nut butters) is being sold with less sugar, but now includes xylitol as a sweetener. That is what is used in sugarless gum and it can be deadly for pets. Many people use peanut butter as a dog treat, or to fill a Kong, or disguise medications…” It ends with the advice, “Worth sharing for anyone with a dog.” This is indeed an important alert, but is there a basis for it?
Xylitol and your pet’s health
Also known as birch sugar, xylitol is categorized as an alcohol. It is naturally present in many plants, including fruits and veggies. Xylitol presents some medical benefits for humans. Additionally, it is a popular sugar substitute. In fact, it is present in a lot of sugarless gums.
However, these health benefits do not extend to animals. Pets should never be allowed to consume anything with xylitol in it. Even if they get into the small amount present in candies, they should get immediate medical attention. In humans, xylitol does not initiate a release of insulin from the pancreas. But in dogs, consuming xylitol does cause an exponential release of insulin. That, in turn, results in hypoglycemia, a severe decrease in blood sugar level. VCAHospitals further explores xylitol’s toxicity for animals.
Why should pet owners pay attention to this peanut butter alert?
Dog owners quickly learn what their fluffy babies can and can’t consume. Chocolate is something of an ancestral enemy to dog health. But usually, peanut butter acts as a fun, healthy treat for our four-legged friends. However, this xylitol warning has people cautious now. According to The Veterinary Centers of America, you primarily find xylitol in “sugar-free gum, candies, breath mints, baked goods, pudding snacks, cough syrup, children’s chewable or gummy vitamins and supplements, mouthwash, and toothpaste.”
Just because this list is where xylitol is typically found does not make it complete. Remember, xylitol is a popular sugar alternative. It actually provides sweetness without affecting calories. Peanut butter producers may choose to use it. Ultimately, check each container of peanut butter. Above all, look for xylitol among the ingredients list. Even small amounts can be extremely unhealthy. This alert is from February 2018 but is still important for your dog’s health when eating peanut butter.