With the grotesque sugar glutton-fest upon us (Easter, I mean, not The Great British Bake-Off), I thought it apt to mention that the sweetener xylitol is making an appearance in more and more foods. And, whilst it can be good for humans, it’s fatal to animals.
Now, dogs aren’t the most discerning diners, as I have found out from living next door to Oscar the dog. So, as a dog owner, one automatically adopts the practice of not leaving food lying around. With cats, it’s a little trickier. They’re not naturally drawn to foods containing xylitol but, because Louis Catorze, in particular, is a fastidious groomer, and because I use the raw powdered xylitol on a daily basis, I watch every stray granule.
A few weeks ago I spilled some xylitol on my head. (Long story, and so stupid that you wouldn’t believe me even if I told you.) Without thinking, I ruffled my hair to brush out all the bits and sent a fine mist of xylitol all over our mutual friend, who was on my lap. Oh. Mon. Dieu.
Cat Daddy wasn’t home at the time (hence why Catorze was on my lap) so I plunged into a complete blind panic. Should I put Le Roi under the shower? What if the heat and the water somehow melted the grains into a sweet paste which glued itself to his fur? Should I brush it all out? What if I didn’t get all the bits out? How would I know the difference between the grains of xylitol and the absolutely identical grains of unknown crud in which Catorze is often covered after rolling around outside? Should I taste them to find out? (Eurgh. What was I thinking? The panic was making me lose my mind. And, in any case, once the suspect granule was off his body, it no longer mattered what it was. NO TASTING.)
As you know, Sa Maj does not like being brushed, so it was no surprise to discover that he also doesn’t like being pinned down by my knee and having bits picked off him. But it was worth the lateness to work, the bleeding eardrums and the psychological trauma to know that my boy didn’t have a single grain of anything potentially toxic about his person by the time I had finished.
So all is now well with the world: Catorze survived me sprinkling his body with fatally toxic grains and I managed to make his body a xylitol-free zone without resorting to picking bits off his fur and eating them. I also wrote to the plastic-free company from whom I bought the product to tell them to put a clearer warning on their packaging in case others spilled it when decanting (although I didn’t tell them that I spilled it on my head) and didn’t know the dangers. And they replied within minutes and said that they would.
Below is a picture of Sa Maj’s fur after the unfortunate incident. Xylitol, outdoor crud or gross skin flakes? Luckily I picked off every last bit so that we wouldn’t have to find out.
*Obviously if your pet has consumed xylitol, or even if you think they may have done so but you aren’t sure, get them to a vet très rapidement.