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The US Food and Drug Association has warned that a common sweetener found in chewing gums and a variety of other snacks could be dangerous for dogs. Xylitol, the main ingredient in sugarless mint, gums, mouth wash, chewable vitamins, baked products and tooth pastes could pose a deadly threat to pet canines if consumed.

A statement from the FDA, however, clarified that xylitol was safe for human consumption. As dogs have a different digestive system and if they consume anything containing the sugar alcohol, their pancreas release significant amount of insulin, which could result in rapid decrease in blood sugar levels.

The symptoms of xylitol poisoning in pets include vomiting and sudden dip in blood sugar, which can lead to weakness, staggering, fainting and seizure. In some cases, the signs and symptoms of hypoglycaemia may not be clear until after 12 to 24 hours of ingesting xylitol.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has estimated an increase in polyalcohol poisoning in dogs from 82 cases in 2004 to 3,700 in 2014.

The FDA warned dog owners to be vigilant and keep them away from foods containing xylitol. Martine Hartogensis, a veterinarian at FDA said: "If you're concerned about your dog eating a food or product with xylitol in it, check the label of ingredients. If it does, indeed, say that it contains xylitol, make sure your pet can't get to it."

FDA has ruled out xylitol toxicity in cats at the moment: "The toxicity of xylitol for cats has not been documented. They appear to be spared, at least in part, by their disdain for sweets."

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