We all know that sugar is unhealthy and should be avoided in our diets than that it is not advisable to feed sugary foods to dogs.
Humans avoid eating sugar by opting for artificially sweetened foods instead. Have you found yourself wondering – are artificial sweeteners safe for dogs?
If so, keep reading to find out the answers.
In this article, we will discuss:
- Why is it important to know if artificial sweeteners are safe for dogs?
- Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe For Dogs?
- Which artificial sweeteners are safe & which are dangerous for dogs?
- Which artificial sweeteners are safe for dogs?
- What are the symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs?
- How to tell if a product is poisonous for your dog
- How will a vet treat xylitol poisoning?
- How to keep your dog safe from artificial sweetener poisoning
Why Is It Important To Know If Artificial Sweeteners Are Safe For Dogs?
We are not likely to make a dog a nice cup of tea and have to ask whether he would like sugar or sweeteners, but there are many other products that you wouldn’t think would contain artificial sweeteners that do.
These are products that your dog could get his paws on and consume without your knowledge.
See Also: Can dogs eat ice cream?
Some of these products you may even already be willingly feeding your dog, like peanut butter, for example, which contains an artificial sweetener called xylitol.
This ingredient is considered poisonous for dogs. Many unsuspecting dog owners use tasty and seemingly healthy human foods like peanut butter to disguise medication for dogs or to use as treats. Are you scared yet? You should be.
Here is a list of common products that your dog may have access to, with or without your knowledge, that contain artificial sweeteners:
- Sugar-free gum
- Baked goods
- Soft drinks
- Canned foods
- Jams and jellies
- Dairy products
- Whole wheat bread
- Greek yogurt
- Ice cream
This only covers a small percentage of the foods you probably have in your cupboard and fridge that contain hidden artificial sweeteners, so be extra careful and keep an eye on your dog the next time you catch him counter surfing.
Which Artificial Sweeteners Are Safe & Which Are Dangerous For Dogs?
Your number one priority while reading this article is probably to find out which artificial sweeteners are dangerous or unhealthy for your dog.
So let’s sort through to find out which ones are going to cause your dog the most problems.
There’s “dangerous,” and then there is “fatal.” Xylitol is the highly toxic artificial sweetener you want to avoid feeding to your dog at all costs as it has proven to be fatal.
It has been known, even in small doses, to cause liver failure, seizures, and even death.
The scariest thing about xylitol is that it is found in so many common human foods that we may not think twice about feeding to our dogs—for example, ice cream, pastries, and yogurts.
Stevia (Green Packet)
This natural sweetener, unlike xylitol, is safe for dogs to consume, as it is not going to cause any long term health effects or fatalities.
However, in large amounts, it will cause your dog to experience an upset stomach and have diarrhea.
Aspartame (Blue Packet)
Another common ingredient in an artificial sweetener is aspartame. Like Stevia, there are no severe health effects, but if your dog does consume this ingredient, it is likely to cause them some minor gastrointestinal problems.
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that contains no calories and is generally safe for dogs. However, it can cause gastrointestinal upset in large amounts.
Saccharin (Pink Packet)
The long-term effects of this artificial sweetener have not been tested. However, it is generally considered safe for dogs, aside from some gastrointestinal upset.
You may not recognize this artificial sweetener, as is it new on the market. It is similar to stevia and is considered safe, as the monk fruit plant is not toxic to dogs.
What Are The Symptoms Of Xylitol Poisoning In Dogs?
As we have seen, xylitol is the biggest threat to our dogs when it comes to artificial sweeteners, and it is hidden in so many different human products that it is also the one your dog is most likely going to come into contact with.
Let’s take a look at the symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs so that we can be prepared.
- Weakness or lethargy – If you notice that your dog is walking drunk, or seems to be acting particularly under the weather, perhaps your dog even seems to be depressed and has lost interest in his usual activities, you should continue to observe your dog and take them to see your veterinarian if symptoms persist.
- Vomiting & Diarrhoea – Aside from the two most common signs of poisoning, which are vomiting and diarrhea, you should also watch out for black and tarry stools, as this could be an indicator that your dog has eaten something that contains xylitol or another toxic substance.
- Seizures or Acute Collapse – Any signs of trembling or tremoring and a rapid heart rate should be observed as signs, as well as full-on seizures or collapse.
- Jaundiced Gums, Bruising, Abnormal Mentation – These are all signs that you should be looking for if your dog has consumed even a small amount of xylitol and seek advice from your vet immediately.
*** Remember that xylitol poisoning can lead to death, so it is imperative to take these symptoms seriously to keep your dog safe. ***
How To Tell If A Product Is Poisonous For Your Dog
The first thing you are likely to do if you realize that your dog has consumed a product that contains artificial sweeteners is panic, even before you have noticed any symptoms of poisoning.
While it is good to be aware of a potential problem, there is no need to panic. You should stay calm and first of all, check the label of the product.
The ingredients list will alert you as to whether the product contains xylitol, and this is the only ingredient when it comes to artificial sweeteners, that you need to be seriously concerned about.
You only need to look at the first three to five ingredients on the label of the product, and if xylitol is listed here, then the product is going to be poisonous.
Other ingredients may sound like xylitol, which may make you feel worried, but rest assured that these are not poisonous. Such ingredients may include sorbitol, erythritol, and maltitol.
Any of the other sugar-free products listed are not necessarily anything to panic about either, although your dog may experience some stomach upset, they will recover fine.
Make sure your dog has plenty of access to fresh water to avoid dehydration from vomiting or diarrhea, and consider taking your dog to the vet is symptoms persist.
If the product in question does contain xylitol, you will need to know how much of it your dog has ingested to calculate whether he has consumed a toxic dose.
Any more than 0.1g/kg can result in profound, sudden problems for your dog. This information will be useful for your vet.
How Will A Vet Treat Xylitol Poisoning?
When you take your dog to be treated for xylitol poisoning by your vet, you should have as much information as possible to give to your vet so that they can come to an accurate diagnosis quickly and start appropriate treatment.
Your vet is likely going to want to induce vomiting if your dog has ingested the product recently (within a few hours).
Usually, after induced vomiting, vets prescribe activated charcoal to bind up any remaining toxins in the dog’s system.
This is not necessary with xylitol poisoning, though, as charcoal does not reliably bind to xylitol, and is just an added expense on your vet bill.
Your dog may need hospitalization for IV fluids, dextrose supplementation, and symptomatic supportive care. Careful monitoring of blood work is critical too.
Liver protectants may need to be used for several weeks, and most dogs are sent home with these, with frequent check-ups at the vet to be on the safe side.
How To Keep Your Dog Safe From Artificial Sweetener Poisoning
The best way to keep your dog safe is to keep them away from artificial sweeteners, but this may be easier said than done, especially in busy households or with kids around.
Here are some tips to help keep your dog safe in and away from home:
- Always know where your dog is. Whether you are at home, out walking your dog, or grabbing a coffee in a dog-friendly café, being aware of what your dog is doing and who he is saying hello to is your most powerful tool in keeping them safe. You will be able to avoid your dog sneakily stealing a bite out of a child’s ice cream as they wave it around from a pram while the parents are not looking. You can stop your dog from hoovering the floor of a café of pastry crumbs and other tasty leftovers that may have been dropped under tables. If you know where your dog is in the home, then you won’t have to worry about them wandering around upstairs in the bathroom where all the toothpaste is!
- Have a strict “No human foods” rule. If you have children, they need to understand from the very beginning that feeding human foods to dogs can be dangerous and may even kill their beloved pet. Establishing a rule of no human foods for the dog will avoid sneaky treats being handed under the table at mealtimes. It will also train your dog not to expect or beg for titbits.
- Control the space in your home. Erect child gates to stop dogs from going upstairs unsupervised, or close bathroom and bedroom doors, and have a rule that the dog can only enter the kitchen when accompanied by a responsible adult. It is a good idea to train your dog that he is not allowed to approach the dinner table when the family is eating, by establishing that this is your dog’s time to go and lie in his basket with a chew toy.
See Also: Can dogs eat this infographic
Summary: Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe For Dogs?
There are many obvious and not so palpable ways that you can protect your pet dog from eating toxic human foods.
Unfortunately, accidents do happen, and when they do, it is essential to know what to do in the case of an emergency.
Hopefully, now you have enough information to know when to act if your dog has eaten something toxic or is showing signs of poisoning.