New Year! New Me!

The time to start making New Year’s resolutions is just around the corner. Our journeys to better ourselves would not be complete without our furry companions. While we make choices to live healthier lifestyles, these choices can lead to toxin exposure for our pets! Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking to improve your well-being:

  1. Weight loss: whether you are cutting out sugar or hitting the gym, embarking on a weight loss journey can come with increased risks to your four-legged friends.
    1. When searching for healthy alternatives to your favorite snacks, you’ll likely encounter a lot of sugar-free products. Many sugar-free products contain xylitol, a sweetener. Xylitol, also labeled birch sugar, can lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels (resulting in profound weakness and seizures) and liver failure in dogs. Small doses of xylitol can be life-threatening, and it can be found in candy, gum, and even peanut butter! Make sure to check the label on products you bring into your home and keep any xylitol containing products far from Fido’s reach.
    2. Trying to improve your energy in the gym? Many pre-workout supplements contain large amounts of caffeine, and some contain xylitol. Both can be highly toxic to our pets. Caffeine can cause hyperactivity, increased temperature, abnormal heart rhythms, seizures and even death at high doses. Before bringing these supplements into your home, make sure to check the ingredients and keep them out of reach of your pets.
  2. Dietary supplements: There are supplements available for almost any need these days. Whether you are looking to improve your mental health, physical health, or looking to add more vitamins and minerals to your diet, keep in mind the dangers to your pet. Any supplement in excess has the potential of being toxic, especially with our furry family members. Many supplements are flavored or sweetened to make them easier to take.  Unfortunately, many of these products use xylitol as a sweetener and which is toxic to dogs. Make sure to check the ingredient list and keep away from your furry companions!
  3. Essential oils: Essential oils and diffusers have become increasingly popular over the last several years. Many essential oils can be toxic to your furry friends. Never apply essential oils directly to your pet, and check with your veterinarian before using essential oils in your home. Diffusing essential oils can lead to toxicity if your pet inhales the mist, or the mist collects on their skin/fur. Essential oils applied to your skin can transfer to your pet through petting or licking. It is essential to ensure the safety of your pet when using essential oils in your home.

New Year’s resolutions can be difficult to stick to but keep these tips in mind and the new year can be healthier for you and your pets. We wish you the best of luck on your New Year health and wellness journeys!

If you want to check if something is toxic to your pet PRIOR to exposure, check out the following website:

If you suspect your pet was exposed to a toxin, please call (855) 764-7661 or take your pet to a veterinarian.



Written by:

Gabi Oliveira, PPH DVM student extern, University of Illinois College of Veterinary Class of 2023

Lizzy Olmsted, CVT, Veterinary Information Specialist