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Facebook posts claim that McDonald’s ice cream contains xylitol, a sweetener toxic to dogs. The fast food company says the substance is not an ingredient in its soft serve products, but experts warn against feeding dogs ice cream for other reasons.
“Mcdonald’s added xylitol to their ice cream. Xylitol is lethal to dogs!” says a Facebook post from April 14, 2022.
Similar posts – the latest in a series of inaccurate claims about McDonald’s restaurants and food products – have appeared on Facebook here and here.
Xylitol is a sweetener frequently used as a sugar substitute. Although it’s approved by the US Food and Drug Association (FDA) for human consumption, the agency says it “may be toxic to your dog.”
McDonald’s has dismissed online rumors about xylitol and its ice cream products, which spread online among worried dog lovers as the weather in North America warmed up in April 2022.
“These claims are false. Our soft cream, present in our cones and other desserts, does not contain xylitol,” a spokesperson for McDonald’s USA told AFP.
Sweetener is also not a listed ingredient in any of the McDonald’s USA desserts.
Jose Arce, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, confirmed that the ingredient is dangerous for dogs.
“When dogs eat a product containing xylitol, the xylitol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and can cause a very rapid and powerful release of insulin from the pancreas, which can quickly cause low blood sugar or hypoglycemia” , said Arce.
“It can happen as quickly as 10 minutes or in an hour, and if not treated quickly, you know, it can actually be life threatening,” he added.
Although many ice creams don’t contain xylitol, Arce says it’s best not to give it to dogs.
“Many dogs can be sensitive to dairy, either because they are lactose intolerant or because they have food allergies and it can cause serious gastrointestinal symptoms,” he said, recommending alternatives such as homemade fruit smoothies, applesauce or ice cubes.
The American Kennel Club also advises that pet owners should avoid giving dogs ice cream, as it can cause obesity and other health issues.
Jerry Klein, chief veterinarian for the American Kennel Club, said small portions of ice cream that doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners can be given to dogs if they don’t have underlying medical conditions such as pancreatitis or diabetes which could be aggravated by the treat.
However, Klein recommended alternatives such as frozen non-fat plain yogurt or frozen bananas.
“Xylitol can be found in a number of commonly used products, including sugar-free gum, mints, candies, ice cream, and toothpaste, among others,” he said, adding, “Because xylitol is used as a sugar substitute, it is found in many more products than people realize.”
According to the FDA, xylitol goes by many names, “including wood sugar, birch sugar, and birch bark extract.”
Veterinarians are urging owners to check food labels for these ingredients before giving anything to their pets, as several companies use these names interchangeably.