Xylitol toxicity in dogs

In our last post about cannabis, a commenter noted that some CBD oil are sweetened by xylitol and that xylitol is toxic to dogs.

Given that astute comment, I thought I would do a brief post on xylitol toxicity in dogs.

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener (lower calorie alternative to sugar) that used in gums, oral care and baked products to name a few.

As far as we know, xylitol is only toxic in dogs.  In no other specie does xylitol stimulate an insulin release but, in dogs, it causes a rapid insulin release which can result in profound hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Dogs that eat up to 0.1 mg/kg are at risk for hypoglycemia while higher doses (0.5mg/kg) can develop acute liver failure.   The mechanism for the acute liver failure is unknown.

Signs of low blood sugar can develop within 30 mns or be delayed if the substance ingested … Continue reading

Canada’s Marijuana Laws Have Changed. What Does It Mean For Pets?

Given Canada’s new status as the second country worldwide to legalize recreational use of marijuana, it is important for veterinarians to weigh in on the risks that marijuana can pose to our pet patients.  While the change in legislation may be welcome on the human front, our concern is that people may be more prone to thinking that it is harmless or even beneficial to give marijuana to their pets.


The 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center cites a study from Colorado (where marijuana has been legal for medical use since 2005) and describes their increase in case load:

A veterinary study from Colorado published recently by the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care reported a four-fold increase in the number of dogs treated for marijuana intoxication between 2005 and 2010, following the legalization of medical marijuana in that state. Similarly, over the past five years Pet Poison HelplineContinue reading

Caring For An Aging Pet

I have learned a lot from my geriatric animal patients over the years. I’ve had that in my back pocket, and so when it came to looking after my own geriatric girl, Mini, I had the good fortune of having shared experience and knowledge from others in a similar situation of caring for an aging pet.

A first-hand perspective

While I was in the thick of caring for Mini I wanted to share the delights but also the reality of dealing with an aging and sick dog, but I somehow couldn’t do it.  Maybe I felt it would jinx how well she was doing; then, in the last few months when her care was fairly constant (I did not leave her more than 4 hours without someone checking in on her) the worry that I was not making the right decisions for her was almost overwhelming.  After I lost her, … Continue reading

3 Top Holiday Hazards For Your Pets

‘Tis the season to fill your stockings with stories of holiday hazards. Most of us know to keep the chocolates and tinsel away from our pets; these safety tips serve as a friendly reminder and will also help you recognize some of the other things that might land your furry friend in the emergency room over the holidays.

1. People Food

I can tell you from my own experience that a tempting panettone, well wrapped and in a festive cardboard container is no match for a determined little dog (and off to the clinic we went to make her vomit…).

Although they love to eat it, rich “people” food spells trouble for dogs for a couple of reasons. One of the reasons is that some dogs don’t tolerate sudden changes in their diets; in addition, pancreatitis in dogs can be triggered by food high in the fat, butter and cream … Continue reading

Blood transfusions in cats and dogs

In this blog, you may have noticed that there have been cases where a pet either received a blood transfusion or donated blood. Did you wonder where the blood comes from for a donation? You’re not alone. Not many people think about this until the need arises.

So where do we get blood?

While the donors are “volunteered” by their guardians, the dogs who are typically selected to become donors are calm dogs who are not bothered about the prospect of sitting still (or lying down) for the 20 minute procedure. For our feline friends the process is a bit more complicated as it requires heavy sedation; most cats don’t tolerate holding still that long!

We usually obtain the blood from an animal blood bank, but sometimes we need to collect fresh whole blood ourselves, either from guardians who have let us know they could be called should we require … Continue reading

Dead Heat

The days of summer are (finally) upon us; the government has issued a heat advisory for the end of the week so now is the time to seriously consider the perils of warm weather.

Dogs have a limited ability to sweat so even a short time in a hot environment can be deadly.

I have seen many cases of fatal heat stroke, and those cases, although varied, have all been devastating – for the treating team but obviously to a much larger degree for the grieving families.  Heat stress happens very quickly and depending on a variety of factors can lead to heat stroke and what you might imagine Ebola to look like – bleeding, severe hemorrhagic diarrhea, organ failure and death.

There is no amount of time that is safe.   Just don’t do it – not even for 5 minutes – even with open windows or in the shade.… Continue reading