By Dr. Julie Hunt
Xylitol is a sugar substitute that has become widely used in the U.S. over the past several years. It is popular with dieters and diabetics alike because it is sugar free, has zero calories, and helps prevent tooth decay. It is now commonly found in sugar-free gum, candy, and foods. In humans, xylitol is absorbed slowly and has little effect on blood sugar or insulin levels. But in the dog, xylitol is rapidly absorbed and causes a sudden spike in insulin, which in turn causes an acute profound drop in blood sugar that can be fatal.