This common ingredient could kill your dog

When it comes to their diets, dogs do not discriminate. If left to roam about the house, there is no telling what they will find to eat. But a common sweetener found in a wide array of snacks could be poisonous for dogs. 

The US Food and Drug Association warned that xylitol, a class of sweetener found in sugarless chewing gum, breath mints, tooth paste, and other household goods, had been linked to serious illness or death in dogs.

In Queensland, on the Sunshine Coast in 2011 a couple had to take their dog to the vet and have its stomach pumped after it ate a number of sugar-free lollies. 

Xylitol is perfectly safe for human consumption, the FDA says, but causes a significant release of insulin from a dog's pancreas, resulting in a dramatic drop in the blood sugar. 

If a dog ingests a food containing xylitol, the effects - including vomiting, weakness, collapse, or seizure - could take 12 to 24 hours to manifest, and would require immediate medical attention. 

Cats are safe, for now, according to the FDA. 

"The toxicity of xylitol for cats has not been documented," the organisation said in a statement. "They appear to be spared, at least in part, by their disdain for sweets."