The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned dog owners to be careful while feeding their pets. It is mainly because a common sugar substitute found in some food items like peanut butter, baked goods and breath mints may be deadly for canines.

FDA stated that xylitol is a type of sugar alcohol that is found in some of the sugar-free foods. The substance is proved to be safe for humans, but it is likely to be poisonous for dogs. Over the past few years, several dogs have been poisoned after eating foods containing this sugar substitute, the agency revealed.

FDA stated that it received several reports of dogs being poisoned after eating sugar-free gum.  But the agency revealed that this sugar substitute can be found in many other consumer products or food items, including toothpaste, baked goods, sugar-free candy, sugar-free ice cream, breath mints, cough syrup and some nut and peanut butters.

When dogs eat foods containing xylitol, it gets absorbed in their bloodstreams. Gradually, insulin starts getting released and the blood sugar levels spike up to a stage that could be life-threatening. This condition is called hypoglycaemia.

FDA also urged dog owners to look out for signs of xylitol poisoning in their pets and seek immediate medical service. It is mainly because deaths could happen within an hour of xylitol consumption. Some of the visible signs of xylitol poisoning are weakness, vomiting, seizure, difficulty standing or walking and coma. These signs will be evident within 15 to 30 minutes of intake.

The agency also urged dog owners to check food labels to know the xylitol content in it, especially if the product is labeled low-sugar or sugar-free. “If a product does contain xylitol, make sure your pet can't get to it,” Martine Hartogensis, a veterinarian at the FDA said in a statement.