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Beware of Birch Sugar: Xylitol's New Name and Hidden Dangers for Dogs, Cats, and Ferrets

In the world of sugar substitutes, a wolf in sheep's clothing has emerged – "birch sugar/sap". Formerly known as Xylitol, this sweetener has undergone a name change, but its dangers for our companions remain as potent as ever.

Xylitol, often lauded for its low-calorie sweetness in human diets, poses a severe threat to dogs, cats, and ferrets when ingested. Now, marketed under the friendlier-sounding term "birch sugar," this substance can be found in a range of products, from sugar-free gum to certain peanut butters.

Why the concern? In dogs, cats, and ferrets, Xylitol/birch sugar prompts a rapid insulin release, leading to a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels. Even in small amounts the result can be swift and severe – vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures, liver failure, and in extreme cases, fatality.

If your pet has injested Xylitol/birch sugar time is of the essence. The effects can set in within 10 - 60 minutes after injestion. Don't delay in seeking treatment!

Signs of Xylitol/birch sugar poisioning include, but are not limited to:



Lack of coordination/difficulty walking or standing





As vigilant pet owners, it's essential to recognize the new guise of Xylitol as birch sugar and be proactive in protecting our four-legged friends. Scrutinize product labels for this hidden danger and keep them out of reach. In addition, teach children about the dangers of Xylitol/birch sugar, emphasizing the importance of keeping these products away from pets, as they can be harmful to our furry friends. (Don't forget those handbags and gym bags too!)

You can often find Xylitol/birch sugar in items like:

Chewing gum/sugarless gum

Peanut butter




Breath Mints


Baked Goods

Chewable or Gunny Vitamins

Many items marked "sugar-free", "low carb", or "low calorie"

Cough Syrup

Dietary Suppliments

Prevention is key. Keep Xylitol/birch sugar-containing products securely out of your pet's reach and in the event of accidental ingestion, call us or seek emergency veterinary attention immediately. By staying informed about the dangers , you can safeguard your furry friend and ensure their well-being.

Spread the word to fellow pet owners, because a small act of caution can make a big difference in keeping our family members safe from the hidden threats in our everyday products.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us. Dr. Thomas and our medical team are happy to help!

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