FIRST... WHAT IS XYLITOL?
The well-known health-dangers posed by sugar have many families seeking alternative sweeteners. One of the most popular alternate sweeteners on the market is known as Xylitol. Xylitol is a naturally-occurring “sugar alcohol” found in corn, some hardwoods, fruit, mushrooms, lettuce and more. Processed, it is a white, crystalline form, similar in look and taste to regular, granulated sugar. Unlike regular sugar, however, which is clearly detrimental to the health of humans, research shows Xylitol to have some promising health benefits:
HEALTH BENEFITS OF XYLITOL
While some people might experience a bit of indigestion as they get used to Xylitol, the taste and texture is very similar to sugar, and baked goodies turn out nicely... Slow introduction can prevent tummy upset, so this can be a great choice for many wishing to lose weight or control diabetes (consult your physician for dietary changes). For those following “Trim Healthy Mama” (or low-carb diets, such as Atkins, this can be used in conjunction with stevia extract and erythritol, making it quite versatile.
IF YOU HAVE CANINE FAMILY MEMBERS, ALL IS NOT SWEET, HOWEVER…
There is a dark side to Xylitol that all pet owners MUST be aware of.
Xylitol is TOXIC to canines… and by “toxic”, we must be clear – even in very small amounts it can be deadly! For those who say, "So is chocolate...", It is estimated that Xylitol is approximately 100 times more toxic.
The most common serious side-effects of ingestion are hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, and liver failure. Hypoglycemia can occur less than 15 minutes from the time of consumption, resulting in death if not treated immediately! Unfortunately, even prompt medical attention can be futile, as there is no known "cure", only supportive treatment.
IF YOU ARE ALARMED, LET IT BE FOR THE RIGHT REASONS
HOW MUCH IS “TOO MUCH”?
ANY Xylitol is too much for a canine. Some brands of Xylitol-sweetened gum contain enough Xyltol for 1 stick of gum to result in severe hypoglycemia in a 20 pound dog; as few as 5 pieces could cause complete liver failure. Other brands might take twice that number to result in severe toxicity... but ANY Xylitol is likely to cause harm.
Precision-run households may find my title, "RunAmok Mama" to feel a tad alarming, so I'd like to offer a quick assurance that my life is more an exercise of controlled chaos than sheer pandemonium!