The AVMA strongly supports the Paws Off Act of 2021, a bill that would require food containing the sugar substitute xylitol to include a warning label specifying its toxic effects on pets. Xylitol is highly poisonous to dogs and other pets and, when ingested, can cause muscle tremors, seizures, and even death.
Most often found in sugar-free gum and breath mints, xylitol may also be present in vitamins, cough drops, sugar-free desserts, mouthwash, toothpaste, and even some peanut butters, among other products. The artificial sweetener, also known as birch sugar, is not always listed on the ingredient label, making it difficult for pet owners to know which items pose a danger to their pets.
Over the past 15 years, xylitol poisoning calls to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center have increased dramatically. In 2005, 201 xylitol-related calls were registered, compared with 6,760 registered in 2018.
The proposed legislation would help inform pet owners about xylitol-containing products in order to keep their pets safe. U.S. Reps. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.) introduced the bill in the House of Representatives with Reps. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) joining as original cosponsors.
Help ensure the veterinary profession’s voice is heard on this important animal welfare issue by contacting your representative in Congress and urge them to support the Paws off Act of 2021.