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Dogs love peanut butter - and their owners love the looks on their faces when they eat it, but a new ingredient added to the tasty treat could be deadly to your furry friend.

Ahana Brutlag, the Associate Director of Veterinary Services at Veterinary Centers of America which operates 750 animal hospitals and over 50 diagnostic laboratories throughout the United States says that, "Chemically, it is a sugar alcohol, and found naturally in berries, plums, corn, oats, mushrooms, lettuce, trees, and some other fruits."

Xylitol is an ingredient that is typically used in dairy foods to add a sweet taste without tacking on calories - now, it is being added to low-calorie peanut butter options.

"Xylitol is manufactured into a white powder that looks and tastes similar to sugar. In many countries, it has been approved for use in oral care products, pharmaceuticals and as a food additive," Brutlag says.

Brutlag says that xylitol is extremely toxic for dogs, "Even small amounts of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure or even death in dogs."

After a dog digests a food containing xylitol, it could take anywhere from ten to sixty minutes before the poison affects a dog.

Symptoms of xylitol poisoning in an animal include vomiting, weakness, difficulty walking, depression or lethargy, tremors, seizure, and a coma.

There is currently is no antidote designed for xylitol poisoning in animals, "Fast and aggressive treatment by your veterinarian is essential to effectively reverse any toxic effects and prevent the development of severe problems." Brutlag says.

If you believe that your dog ate food containing xylitol and displays symptoms, you should contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680.

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