Artificial Sweeteners – Are They Dangerous For Your Dog?
When discussing dangerous artificial sweeteners for dogs, the most common one we hear about is xylitol. While this certainly is the most toxic synthetic sugar, it does not mean that it’s the only artificial sweetener that can cause our dogs harm.
So what other artificial sweeteners should we be aware of?
In this article we will introduce you to a list of artificial sweeteners that are in common food items, and help you understand which ones are dangerous for your furry friend.
What Are Artificial Sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners are all the rage in food these days. Since these synthetic sweeteners often have the same sweet flavor without the high caloric index, they are extremely popular in lower calorie food. You can also use much less of an artificial sweetener than a natural sugar additive, as they tend to be even sweeter than normal sugars.
Some of the most common items that contain artificial sweeteners include:
- powdered drink mixes
- canned food
- baked items
- and even dental care products.
With being in so many food items that we keep in our home, these artificial sweeteners can pose a threat to our canine companions.
Though we never recommend offering your dog a diet that contains any artificial sweeteners, we understand that accidents happen. Sometimes our dogs get their paws on items around our home that are not intended for them. Its extremely important to know which ingredients can harm your dog.
Different Types of Artificial Sweeteners
Now that we have introduced you to artificial sweeteners and the low calorie flavor they provide, let’s dive into some of the most common artificial sweeteners on the market. While some of these synthetic sugars may sound familiar, there are others that you may have never noticed before.
Let’s discuss each synthetic sweetener in detail, and help you understand how each ingredient can impact your beloved pup.
As you may already know, xylitol is an extremely toxic artificial sweetener for dogs. Even the smallest amount of xylitol can cause devastating symptoms in our canine companions, even being fatal in some cases. Xylitol causes a sudden and drastic drop in blood sugar in dogs when it’s consumed. This can cause an array of serious symptoms.
Dogs that consume xylitol can experience weakness, difficulty standing, shaking, vomiting, collapse, seizures, and even death. Severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can have a devastating impact on the dog affected and can even cause permanent liver damage. No matter how small of an amount that your dog gets their paws on, xylitol is extremely dangerous.
If your dog ever consumes an item with xylitol, it’s important to seek veterinary assistance immediately. The sooner you offer your dog medical assistance, the better their chance of a full recovery. Just be sure to bring the ingredient details with you of the item they consumed, as this helps your vet find the best treatment option.
Some of the common items that contain xylitol include:
- sugar free gum
- sugar free candy
- some peanut butters
- sugar free pudding and jello
- allergy medication
- and some sleep aids
Erythritol is an artificial sweetener that is proven to be much safer for dogs. So is erythritol safe for dogs? Unlike xylitol, erythritol does not cause a sudden drop in blood sugar or possible liver damage. While it’s not as dangerous as xylitol, is erythritol safe for dogs?
Though it may not be toxic, it can still cause gastrointestinal upset when consumed in large amounts. Dogs that eat large amounts of erythritol may experience diarrhea, vomiting, decrease in appetite, and more. In order to avoid possible vomiting and diarrhea, it’s best to keep any products containing erythritol away from your pup.
Some of the common items that contain erythritol include:
- soy sauce
- and some baked goods
Stevia is a popular artificial sweetener that has taken the low calorie world by storm. So is stevia safe for dogs? Thankfully for our canine companions, stevia is considered non-toxic to dogs and cats. Though Stevia is considered non-toxic, it can cause diarrhea in some furry friends when it is consumed in large amounts. While stevia is safe for dogs, it’s still best to keep any products containing stevia away from your pup to avoid any possible GI upset. Yes, your dog can eat stevia but just be aware of any upset stomach issues.
Some of the common items that contain Stevia include:
- soft drinks
- soy sauce
- sugar free candy
- sports drinks
- and Stevia products
Aspartame is a synthetic sugar that is gaining popularity in the artificial sweetener world. Though it’s beginning to be found in more and more products, can dogs eat aspartame? While this sweetener has been linked to memory issues in humans with chronic exposure, it’s extremely rare for a dog to ever consume enough to cause any impact to their health.
Aspartame is considered safe in our furry friends, but could possibly cause gastrointestinal upset if it’s consumed in large amounts.
Some of the common items that contain aspartame include:
- diet baked goods
- and many other low calorie sweets
Saccharin is an artificial sweetener that is most commonly found in Sweet N Low. It is found in many low fat sweets as a healthier alternative, but is saccharin safe for dogs? Thankfully for our pups, saccharin is listed as non-toxic to dogs. While consumption of saccharin in dogs is still being studied, it’s listed as only causing mild gastrointestinal upset if it is consumed in large amounts.
Some of the common items that contain saccharin include:
- Sweet N Low
- low fat baked goods
- sugar free candy
- salad dressings
- and drink mixes
Most commonly known as Splenda, sucralose is a popular artificial sweetener used in teas and coffee. Also known for how well it provides sweetness in lower calorie baked goods, sucralose is a staple in so many homes. Sucralose is generally safe for dogs, but can lead to diarrhea if a dog gets their paws on a large amount. In order to be safe and avoid GI upset, it’s best to keep any products containing Splenda away from your furry friend.
Some of the common items that contain sucralose include:
- diet sodas
- sugar free candy
- low fat baked goods
- and some drink mixes
With monk fruit being a new sweetener on the market, many people wonder if monk fruit is safe for dogs or not. Monk fruit is a small fruit that is native to Southeast Asia and contains sweet extract that is much lower in calories than standard sugar. Because of how sweet this extract is and how little you have to use to receive flavor, it is becoming more popular in diet foods on the market. With monk fruit being a more natural approach to sweeteners, it is considered safe for dogs.
Some of the common items that contain monk fruit include:
- protein bars
- some ice cream
- some diet sodas
- and low fat baked goods
Health Problems Caused By Artificial Sweeteners
Though the effects of artificial sweeteners are still being studied in dogs, it’s clear that synthetic sugars can have an impact on our canine companions. Due to the level of sweetness in these substances, the most common health concern is gastrointestinal upset. Similar to foods that contain high amounts of fat, sweet food items can also lead to an upset stomach that may require veterinary assistance to resolve.
As we mentioned above, the only artificial sweetener on the list that is potentially fatal to dogs is xylitol. This artificial sweetener can cause a life threatening drop in blood sugar, requiring immediate medical assistance if a dog ever consumes it.
Bottom line, if you think your dog ate a product with an artificial sweetener and is experiencing any side effects, it’s best to contact your vet as soon as possible. The sooner you act, the better your dog’s chance at a full recovery.
Artificial sweeteners are making their way into so many household items, making it important to understand their potential side effects. Be sure to review the information we discussed above so you can keep your furry friend safe in the future.
My name is Amber. I am a dedicated animal lover that turned my passion into my career. I am a Licensed Vet Tech with 10 years of experience in veterinary medicine, but I recently took my career online to help spread accurate information on animal care. With how vast the online world is, I have a strong desire to ensure that the reader always walks away with helpful pet advice. With the experience I’ve gained from my time in this field, I have been able to travel the world, offering my services to as many animal rescues as I can find. If I am not at my laptop, or back home visiting family, you can find me somewhere in the world, cuddling every furry friend that I can find! Read more about us here.