By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Xylitol, a sugar substitute found in a variety of sugar-free cookies, candies, puddings, baked goods, mints and chewing gum, has been proven to be highly toxic, even at times, fatal, to dogs. It’s also found in certain types of chewable vitamins and throat lozenges and even some brands of toothpaste. (This is a good reason to use pet toothpaste for your dog instead of toothpaste made for people.)

But xylitol is most commonly used in a wide variety of popular sugar-free gums on the market today. Please check the ingredients and keep away from your dog’s reach.

According to the Animal Poison Control Center of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the effects of xylitol ingestion in dogs are quick and the window of opportunity to aid is small.

Within thirty minutes or less of a dog’s ingestion of just a small amount of xylitol, a dramatic drop in blood sugar can result. Just two or three sticks of gum can be toxic to a twenty pound dog. The dog can quickly become lethargic and excessively weak, develop seizures, hemorrhaging and suffer liver failure.

The Animal Poison Control Center of the ASPCA cautions that although your dog may not exhibit these systems right away, it doesn’t mean that he won’t be affected. Call your vet immediately. To avoid any problems, keep these products safely away from your dog at all times.