Showing posts with label poison. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poison. Show all posts

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pet Medications & Xylitol - What You Don't Know Could Kill Your Pet

Blog the Change for Animals occurs every 3 months Jan, Apr, Jul, and Oct logo Today is the "Blog the Change for Animals" event, in which pet bloggers from all over write about important animal related causes and topics that are important to them. We do it 4 times a year, and it's hosted by "Be The Change for Animals". We all share a passion for blogging and making our voices heard about the rights and needs of animals all over the world.
My topic, accidental pet poisonings by Xylitol, hits very close to home. Xylitol is a hidden danger that many family pets have fallen victim to in one form or another, and I was almost one of those victims about 6 months ago. My Mommy and I have never talked about it publicly until today, but we wanted to let everyone know about how important it is to be vigilant when it comes to Xylitol and your pets.

Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs, cats and ferrets! Xylitol can kill your pet. I might sound overly dramatic, but I am just being brutally honest. Xylitol is a sugar substitute found in all kinds of things from chewing gum to candy to liquid medicines. Xylitol is estimated to be 100 times more toxic than chocolate to dogs! So this is a topic to take very seriously. Several good websites are available with information on this Xylitol poisoning in pets including the Pet Poison Hotline and the FDA. VCA Animal Hospitals has a "Xylitol toxicity in dogs" page on their website as well.
Pixel Blue Eyes posing with her veterinarian Dr. Mask All veterinarians and all pet compounding pharmacies should be well informed about Xylitol's toxicity in pets. Every time I need to have a liquid medicine of ANY kind, my vet always asks the parties involved about Xylitol. She calls everyone involved in the making of the medication to make sure that Xylitol is not an ingredient.
As more and more human pharmacies begin advertising that they can fill pet prescriptions, not all of them are going through the official certification process. This certification process ensures they know all of the specific substances that are toxic or deadly to pets. What is safe for a human is not always safe for your pet. Although humans and pets may take the same specific medications, the formulations are often different due to the inactive ingredients such as Xylitol.

Be especially careful about pharmacies that state they can compound pet prescriptions.  Pet compounding pharmacy certification is even more rigorous and expensive, so many pharmacies might not take the time to go through that process. Without that certification, they might not know about a pet toxin like Xylitol. It does not matter how well meaning or innocent they are...if they give you a bottle of poison to give your pet, it won't matter "how nice they were".
Xylitol is estimated to be 100 times more toxic than chocolate to dogs!
Six months ago, a local pharmacy that had recently gotten their compounding license, filled my dog prescription for liquid Gabapentin (a nerve pain medication for my docked tail pain). They had filled it before and everything had been okay. This time something was wrong. It looked and smelled completely different from the previous bottle Mommy had gotten before. She asked the pharmacy staff about it, and they reassured her it was the same medication and the same dose. Mommy did NOT feel right about it. She quizzed them, telling them it was for a dog, and they swore it was the same exact medication she'd always gotten. It was just clear now instead of being milky like before. It was a Friday, and no one with real authority at the pharmacy was going to be available to ask about it until the following Monday. Mommy was absolutely sick with worry. She had a horrible feeling that something was wrong with the medication. She left the pharmacy with the odd liquid medicine anyways.
My precious older sister Peanut had just been released from the hospital after staying for over a week with complete liver failure, having almost died from a mysterious "toxin" that the doctors couldn't identify. We were so scared and had daily vigils at home and at the hospital praying she'd make it. Peanut was supposed to start taking the same liquid Gabapentin for her knee issues once she got home. She had been taking a different compounded liquid medicine from the same pharmacy before she became ill...

Mommy was upset and worried all weekend, and refused to give me the strange liquid Gabapentin based on her gut feeling. I have several health issues including a compromised liver for which I take other medication to prevent further damage. Mommy did not want to risk a strange medicine she was unsure about, so she managed to stretch the little bit of Gabapentin I had left from the old bottle to last me through the weekend. On Monday morning, Mommy talked to the head pharmacist and made him read every ingredient on the label from this different Gabapentin liquid. It was then she discovered that the large bottle of clear, icky-sweet smelling Gabapentin they sent home with Mommy, that they insisted was okay and safe for her dog to take , had Xylitol in it.
If Mommy had tried to give it to me 3 times a day over that weekend, I never would have made it to the second dose. If Peanut had taken it, who had just suffered full liver failure? She would not be here today. 

This is what Xylitol does specifically to a dog's system:
1. Xylitol is immediately absorbed in the  dog's  bloodstream.  
2. The dog's body responds by releasing huge amounts of insulin. 
3. The rapid insulin release causes a severe hypoglycemic attack for the dog.  (All of this occurs in less than 10 minutes!)
4. Xylitol,  even   in small doses, can and will cause liver failure.
5. Signs of Xylitol poisoning in dogs include weakness, lethargy, collapse, vomiting, tremors, seizures, jaundice, malaise, black-tarry stools, and sometimes coma or death. 
Dogs with health issues and compromised immune systems are at especially high risk.

Please be vigilant and know what you are giving your pet. It can be the difference between life and death. If you receive pet medications that are questionable, or are different than the normal formulation you are used to (looks different, smells different, feels different)...when in doubt, don't give it to them!! Never be afraid to ask questions of your pharmacist, don't be afraid to question the medication, and of course, always speak with your veterinarian. 

This is a 'Be the Change for Animals' blog hop. Visit some of the other animal related topics below to see how other pet bloggers are "blogging the change" for animals!