AVMA supports legislation surrounding xylitol warning label requirements
The legislation will require food containing the substance toxic to pets—xylitol—to include a warning label highlighting its harmful effects.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) announced its full endorsement of the Paws Off Act of 2021, which would require food containing the sugar substitute xylitol—a substance highly poisonous to pets, particularly dogs—to feature a warning label specifying its toxic effects. This act will educate pet parents about products containing this artificial sweetener to help ensure their pet’s safety.
Though used in various everyday products, xylitol does not typically appear on the ingredient label, making it challenging for owners to determine which items are harmful to pets. Xylitol is most frequently found in sugar-free gum and breath mints, but can also be present in vitamins, cough drops, sugar-free desserts, mouthwash, toothpaste, and other household items.
According to an organizational release,1 representatives' David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and Greg Stanton (D.-Ariz.) proposed the bill in the House of Representatives and representatives Michael Waltz (R. Fla.) and Raúl Grijalva (D.-Ariz.) joined as original cosponsors.
“Ensuring pet owners are aware of the products and household items that pose a threat to their pets is a critical component of animal welfare,” said José Arce, DVM, AVMA President, in the release.1 “Despite the deadly harm xylitol presents to dogs and other pets, it is frequently not listed in the ingredient label in products we use on an everyday basis.”
“We must enact the Paws Off Act of 2021 to inform the public about which products contain the artificial sweetener and the poisonous effect it has on our pets. The AVMA applauds Representatives Schweikert, Stanton, Waltz, and Grijalva for championing this necessary legislation in Congress,” he added.
Concurrently, over the past 15 years, xylitol poisoning calls have spiked significantly, reflecting its growing presence in products. In 2005, 201 xylitol-related calls were documented, in 2018, there were 6,760.2
“With roughly 50% of American households owning 1 pet or more, it is vital that families be informed of the dangers many basic items and products can pose to their animal’s lives,” said Schweikert, in the release.1
“Late surveys conducted by the FDA have shown that an overwhelming majority of pet owners are unaware of the existence of this toxin in their everyday items. I'm proud to introduce this legislation to heighten awareness around this chemical, so that pets may remain protected,” he continued.
- AVMA backs legislation promoting xylitol pet safety requirements. News release. September 14, 2021; AVMA. Accessed September 14, 2021. https://www.petage.com/avma-backs-legislation-promoting-xylitol-pet-safety-requirements-for-toxic-poison-dogs/
- Nicholas J. Xylitol: The “sugar-free” sweetener your dog NEEDS to know about. Preventive Vet. https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/xylitol-sugar-free-sweetener-dangerous-for-dogs. Published August 10, 2015. Updated September 2, 2021. Accessed September 14, 2021.
Editors note: All veterinary technician content for this month is supported by Banfield Pet Hospital.