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PET SAFETY MONTH: 30 tips in 30 days that can save your pet's life - Tip #14

Beware of sugarfree gum, candy and now, low sugar peanut butter.

These products are wonderful for humans who want to avoid gaining weight. They are sweetened with Xylitol which is to us sweet and inert. We taste its sweetness but it does not provide any calories.

Dogs systems are a little different. Like us, they love sweets and Xylitol tastes sweet to them, too. However, their systems do not realize that Xylitol is not a sugar and their pancreases pump out insulin. And what happens? They go into insulin shock because there is no sugar to bind to the insulin.

So that pack of sugarfree gum? Keep it on a high shelf. When it's in your purse, keep your purse snapped closed. It's tempting to pup. Very tempting.

But if pup get into mischief and dines on your purse contents, call Poison Control immediately. I'm sure you never thought of this - why would you - but different flavors of sugarfree gum have different amounts of Xylitol. The strawberry may have more than the orange. Or vice versa. The technicians at Poison Control will know. Also different brands have different formulas or call them recipes. They know that, too. And they are wizzes at math and figure out on the spot if you have a "watch it" or "get to the ER and we mean NOW" on your hands.

Poison Conrtol (888) 426-4435

This is one case where cat owners can relax. Kitties are rarely interested in Xylitol or, for that matter, sweets in general. And it's very simple.

Dogs, like us, are omnivores. Nature uses "sweet" to signal that a fruit is ripe and that it is time to eat it for best nutrition and best seed scattering.

But cats are obligate carnivores. They don't eat fruit and thus have no need for sweet receptors and are totally uninterested in sugar or sugar substitutes. Voila! Your chewing gum, candies and peanut butter are all safe from kitty. But not from pup!

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