Xylitol is an ingredient you need to know about. It makes things tasty but it's deadly toxic to your dog. This news has been around since 2006 or 2007, but it can't be repeated too much if it saves even one dog.
Here's the scoop:
Xylitol a natural extract from the birch tree. According to www.pedmed, "It takes only a little bit of this stuff to sweeten a whole lot. It's therefore less expensive than other sugar substitutes. And it happens to taste better than most of them."
Xylitol is a common sugar substitute (called sugar alcohol) found in sugar free chewing gum, breath mints, tooth paste, mouth wash, certain candy products and it's used in baking.
Pharmaceutical companies use it in chewable vitamins and throat lozenges. I even saw a recently launched energy drink with Xylitol. While Xylitol has been deemed safe for humans it can be lethal to dogs -- quickly lethal.
If a dog accidentally eats a product with just 3 grams Xylitol it can rapidly cause a radical drop in the dog's blood sugar level causing the dog to exhibit symptoms including weakness, lethargy, and a loss of coordination. More severe signs are total collapse and/or seizures. It has been linked to apparently causing liver damage within 24 hours.
To a 65 pound dog getting hold of a pack of gum with 10 pieces could easily kill him. For a smaller pooch, it might only take a couple of pieces to end his life.
Pass this on to your friends and post where the message will reach as many dog owners and dog sitters as possible. I haven't read anything about whether it affects other animals or not.