Is sweetener toxic to cats?

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – I heard something about a sweetener causing dogs to get sick. Does it also cause problems in cats?

Darla B.

Answer

Hi – thanks for your email. You wrote asking if sweetener is found to be toxic. The answer is yes- it has been found to be toxic to dogs however its toxicity in cats has not been established.

The ingredient “Xylitol” which is commonly found in sugar-free gum, candies and baked goodies has been found to cause a low blood sugar and possible liver problems in dogs. However, there is not much information about its impact on cats. There are some comments that it may cause problems in ferrets. Cats are generally more “choosy” (than dogs) about what they eat therefore accidental ingestion may be much less common in cats even if they are sensitive.

It seems some pets are more sensitive to it than others. The exact amount that needs to be ingested to cause problems is still being determined. Signs can develop quickly.

A couple articles that might be helpful to you are:

  • Products Sweetened With Xylitol Can Be Toxic To Dogs
  • Dangerous Foods: Are They Harmful to Your Cat?
  • Is Chewing Gum Toxic to Your Pet?

    It is best not to feed your cat anything but cat food. If your cat does ingest something containing xylitol – I’d worry about the signs as discussed in the dog article. Please read those for more information.

    Dr. Debra

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