Local veterinarians send out warning about popular sugar substitute

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Veterinarians are warning pet owners to keep a common sugar substitute away from dogs.

Xylitol is most commonly used as a sugar substitute, but experts warn it's anything but sweet for your dogs.

"You want to keep xylitol away from dogs because it can drop their blood sugar and then can lead to liver failure and liver failure can then lead to death," said Dr. Noemi Benitah, a veterinarian.

Xylitol is also found in sugar-free gum, mints, candies and baked goods.

Peanut butter is a common way to get our four-legged friends to take their medication. It can also be a tasty treat, but check the label and make sure xylitol isn't in it.

Benitah says often times when dogs get into xylitol it's an accident and you may not know, but she says you'll know something is wrong after.

"It can in some cases drop their sugar and they can become very lethargic and eventually it can cause liver failure in dogs," Benitah said.

She says it can all happen very quickly and in some cases causes death. She says signs can start as quickly as 30 minutes.

"They can even have seizures. When they are in liver failure, they can become jaundiced. They can stop eating, vomit. So they can become very sick," said Benitah.

Dog owner of 25 years Mike Scheldrick said he had no idea.

"Quite honestly, I'm kind of shocked that I wasn't aware of this before," said Scheldrick.

Now that he knows, he says he'll change the way he buys products for his dog.

"I'm going to be reviewing the products I give my dogs a little bit further and more in-depth and to verify I'm not giving them anything that could is toxic," said Scheldrick.

Benitah says if your dog is acting strangely, it never hurts to give the vet a call and ask questions. But she says if you think your dog got into xylitol or anything toxic, take them to the vet right away.