The Trouble With Xylitol

The Trouble With Xylitol

Xylitol is creeping in everywhere! Very often we purchase items without even being aware that it’s in them and, with the ingredients list being often the last thing we look at, it’s easy to miss it.

These days it’s in mouthwash, toothpaste, syrup, mints, chewing gum, candy.....too many things to mention. I have no clue why it’s the new alternative to sugar when it’s such a ghastly product, and the teeny tiniest amount can cause an insulin spike that makes your dogs’ blood sugar plummet to fatally low levels.

Last week at the supermarket, I picked up peanut butter to give meds to the dogs with and there was Xylitol in that. 

It’s a good job that I check the ingredients of every single thing we bring into this house because if not, I would have killed at least six dogs last week. 

Imagine that...seriously. I am having heart palpitations just thinking about it.

So, check every single label, then double check PLEASE. 

For Dog’s sake.



Here's a story that highlights just how dangerous Xylitol is to dogs:

This isn’t a new story, it happened about 18 months ago, but as you all know, I am petty and vindictive enough to bear a grudge for a long ass time and honestly, every time I think about sharing this one, I keep thinking to myself ‘Nope, you cant do that, you’ll get hit by a f*cking bolt of lightning’.

Today, I’m feeling lucky.

You shall know if I was right to feel this way when you watch the news tonight.
...........”And in other news, Penny Miller a fat, wrinkly, loud mouthed British woman who thinks she knows it all, got the comeuppance of a lifetime today when she got swept up in a tornado that strangely just hit a teeny, tiny corner of Winder, Georgia.

Her 76 dogs, and the rest of her family, were left unscathed and the entire rest of Barrow county was bathed in 85 degrees of sunshine with barely a breeze. Scientists are saying that this strange weather phenomenon is no doubt an act of God. Judging by the amount of fecal matter everywhere, locals are saying that this just proves she was actually full of shit’.

        Anyhoo.....this local pastor and his wife came to me asking if I would take their dog, Max, who ‘just needed a little socialization’ into the program. After reviewing their detailed application form, I invited them for an evaluation.

Doug and I temp tested this young 18 month old lab who was, and there’s no other way to say it, a ‘jumpy little f*cker’ (those are the exact words I used at the time, I believe).  I tested him with my own dogs and decreed him to be a somewhat sweet boy, but one who absolutely, desperately, needed to be socialized with a very distinct type of dog....dogs who would calm him, not allow him to be overtly physical and who would be prepared to walk away from him and end the game to teach him a lesson when he got too much. 

I had just the dogs for the job at that time and so we started his program the very next week, putting him with Levi, Ava and Freddie. (I still have Levi and Freddie but they are retired now, sadly.)

We quickly noticed that Max had some pretty serious chewing issues. On the very first day, after his first run, he took out an entire door frame in about ten minutes of being put up in a suite with a super calm dog.

We always bring dogs in and out of a suite several times to get them used to being put up, but every time we walked away for even ten seconds, we could hear wood being pulped. 

Next we popped him in a large room-size crate where he promptly murdered a plush dog bed and then the Kuranda  dog bed we replaced it with.

He was next transferred to a crate in a carpeted room (as he obviously couldnt have any kind of a bed, but we want dogs to not be on a cold hard floor because of their joints) while I called his mum and dad.

‘Ummmmmm, Pastor M——-, you didn’t mention the destructive behavior, does he chew at home? Only, he's taken out a door frame and a couple of beds in like, half an hour after being put up, despite us bringing him in and out of the crate ten times to get him used to it. Is this normal?’

‘Oh, yes,’ he said, ‘Max does that all the time at home, we crate him all the time unless he’s in the yard because hes so destructive’.

‘Wow, thanks for the heads up, AFTER the fact’.

He giggled and put the phone down.

Okay so I’ll admit I was already mumbling ‘what a dick’ under my breath and I was struggling to keep a lid on my pissy-ness. It was kind of doing that low boil thing.....

I was clearly going to be handed a loaded gun every time this dog came to visit, so that he could get rid of his excess energy, which I have no problem with normally, as long as the parents are doing their bit at home.

Knowing that this poor dog spent all day in a crate ( pastors work long ass hours, by and large) and was only allowed to be free in the yard but never in the house made me upset for all of the training opportunities he was missing. Letting a dog out into the yard and leaving him out there for an hour or two then shutting him up in a crate gives him no tools to handle any situation inside a home, with humans or other dogs. He was basically always at a peak level of excitement and stimulus because it was always brand new and intoxicating to him every time someone, anyone showed him some attention. 

It takes time to teach any dog what to do and what not to do in a domestic situation, and its our job as owners to teach them........or they pay the price.

I called them up and was nice (swear to God) while we chatted at length about his energy level and what needed to be done, and it turned out that they were pretty scared of his jumpiness with any visitors etc as he had BITTEN A FEW PEOPLE (seriously??????) in their house.......even their vet thought he should be on Prozac, or that they should put him down. They had apparently been thinking about that when they heard about the Ranch. 

Wow. Just wow.

Ummm...when were you going to tell me this then, Sir?

After he tore my ass off?

Once he had maimed a member of my staff?

Or were you just going to wait until he ate a bus load of schoolchildren........?

I swear to God, by now I was livid. 

Normally I would fire a client for withholding information like that; it had NOT been written on the forms that prospective clients have to fill out, where it says very plainly ‘has your dog ever bitten anyone?’

Zero. Nada. Zip. The bastards left it blank so I’d think there was no issue.

But...the guy’s a pastor and I didn’t want to piss off the Big Guy, so I decided I would instead give them a stiff talking to about full disclosure and offered some advice about supplements to calm him down so that they could integrate him more into the home in a calmer fashion and get him the time and help he needed.

We worked out a training protocol which they swore to stick by, and I told them to get some canine  L-Theanine supplements called ANXITANE made by Virbac Health because they calm the mind and give the dog an opportunity to think before he acts. They can stop the racing thoughts and fears that cause so many of these errant behaviors, but are often not the fault of the dog.

I told them to be sure to get Anxitane and not another brand.

(Being ADD, I know a lot about racing thoughts, inability to concentrate and not being able to get my shit together sometimes. My mind can be like a bunch of circus monkeys on crack juggling firecrackers. L-Theanine works for me every time I need to pause and think straight.)

We also asked them to change his diet to an easily digestible white fish protein, add in probiotics and to commit to 2x 40 minute walks a day before they brought him into the house so that they could set him up for success.

‘Yes’ they said ‘we will do it. We dont want to lose him’.

Two weeks later, they called to ask if I would take him for a visit and so I asked how the walks and the inside training were going.

‘Oh, we’ve been so busy with church stuff, we havent had time to walk him, but we will, I promise’.

“You are doing him a grave disservice” I said. “ You have committed to him and you HAVE to do this, or I cannot be involved with you. Its too upsetting. Now, what about the ANXITANE? Did you get some?’

‘It’s really expensive, its $100 a pack, so we decided to look for something cheaper’.

Now this is where you will realize why the word ANXITANE was written in great big letters in this piece.

I explained yet again that there are many brands of L-Theanine on the market but that this is made SPECIFICALLY for dogs and contains no additives that will harm them, like Xylitol, which is so toxic to dogs it’s ingestion can be fatal. 

While Anxitane is more than twice the price of other brands, it is at least twice as effective, and, if it doesnt turn out to be as effective as at the very least a low dose of Prozac, then I add in another safe additional supplement called Zylkene, that will boost its efficacy. All the while with no side effects, no upset tummy which Prozac can cause so often, and it’s safe as houses.

‘Right. We will get it. See you next week’.

‘You’ll get Anxitane, correct?’

‘Yep, you got it.’

The following week, Mum brought him to the Ranch, handed the staff member who was doing morning check-in a bag with a tub of  L-Theanine  and told her to give him ‘one of these’ twice a day.  She said it was ‘the stuff Penny told us to get’. The tub was put in the meds box and the the dose and frequency was written on our meds board.

That night, Doug and I were feeding the 30 odd dogs we had staying with us and we gave Max his supplements in his dinner, per her instructions. 
As we were clearing up and washing the bowls, I was pissing and moaning about them and how I could see that they were STILL not exercising this dog as he’d come in like a hurricane, knocking me over in the first five minutes, he was so amped up.

“I know,” said Doug “ I’m surprised they even forked out for that L-Theanine you told them to get’.

And thats when I had a thought, then had a major panic and ran to the meds box. 

Ho. Lee. Shit. 

The box didn’t look right.

The tight bastards had indeed NOT bought the Anxitane.

They had instead bought a much cheaper brand of L-Theanine made for humans.........that had XYLITOL in it.

The very thing I had warned them about multiple times.

For the next half an hour, we frantically shoved hydrogen peroxide down Max’s throat and then walked him around and around the yard until he vomited. On the third purge, the tablet, thankfully undigested, came out. A little rough around the edges but it seemed to be intact.

Even the tiniest amount of Xylitol can be fatal for a dog; Max was beyond lucky that we took such immediate action. 

Even though we felt sure that the tablet had come out whole, both Doug and I never let him out of our sight for the rest of the evening and after Doug left to go home at 11, I checked Max every hour to make sure he was not lethargic, seizing, vomiting.....

I left a message for his mum and dad to let them know what had happened but didn’t hear back from them that evening.

It was a long and awful night, but thankfully Max was bouncier than a bag of Funions the next morning. I, on the other hand, looked like a linen shirt that someone had forgotten to iron. 

I called his owners to talk through what had happened and guess what they did?
They laughed.

Yes really, they laughed and then apologized, saying that the brand they bought was $25 cheaper.

That was the price of Max’s safety, our sanity and a whole night of misery....$25?

That’s when I did it. 

I slammed the phone down.

I hated firing Max as a client but seriously, I am not that paragon of virtue that can look at stupid, listen to stupid and say nothing. 

Nope, can’t do it.

I made the executive decision that if God was going to smite me because I called a pastor an idiot and a tightwad, then I’d just have to take it on the chin.

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