ISVMA Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association
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August 16 , 2006


Volume IV, No. 3



An electronic newsletter highlighting veterinary issues for Illinois veterinarians

Downy Woodpecker
©Peter S. Weber
click on picture to view larger image

In this Issue

Xylitol Toxicity

ISVMA Region Meetings

About The Photo

Contact Us

Index of Links

Downy Woodpecker Photo

Contact Us


No Sugar Coating: Products Sweetened
With Xylitol Can Be Toxic To Dogs

- Number of 2005 Xylitol-Related Cases Up More Than 150% Over Previous Year—

- Sugar-free Chewing Gums, Candies, Baked Goods Among Products -

(Urbana, IL)– The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center cautions animal owners that xylitol, a sweetener found in certain sugar-free chewing gums, candies, baked goods and other products can potentially cause serious and even life-threatening problems for pets.

“Last year, we managed more than 170 cases involving xylitol-containing products,” says Dana Farbman, CVT and spokesperson for the Center. “This is a significant increase from 2004, when we managed about 70.” Barely halfway into 2006, the Center has already managed about 114 cases. Why the increase? “It’s difficult to say,” Farbman states. “Xylitol products are relatively new to the United States marketplace, so one possibility may be an increase in availability.”

According to Dr. Eric Dunayer, veterinarian and toxicologist for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, dogs ingesting significant amounts of items sweetened with xylitol could develop a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, loss of coordination and seizures. “These signs can develop quite rapidly, at times less than 30 minutes after ingestion of the product. Therefore, it is crucial that pet owners seek veterinary treatment immediately.” Dr. Dunayer also stated that there appears to be a strong link between xylitol ingestions and the development of liver failure in dogs.

While it was previously thought that only large concentrations of xylitol could result in problems, this appears to no longer be the case. “We seem to be learning new information with each subsequent case we manage,” says Dr. Dunayer. “Our concern used to be mainly with products that contain xylitol as one of the first ingredients. However, we have begun to see problems developing from ingestions of products with lesser amounts of this sweetener.” He also says that with smaller concentrations of xylitol, the onset of clinical signs could be delayed as much as 12 hours after ingestion. “Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that even if your pet does not develop signs right away, it does not mean that problems won’t develop later on.”

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center strongly urges pet owners to be especially diligent in keeping candy, gum or other foods containing xylitol out of the reach of pets. As with any potentially toxic substance, should accidental exposures occur, it is important to contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for immediate assistance.

ISVMA Regional Meeting Updates

Three of the ISVMA regions have released their programs and schedules for their fall meetings:

Southern Illinois VMA (Region 1)

DATE: September 7, 2006

LOCATION: Centralia Animal Disease Laboratory on Shattuc Road in Centralia, IL

TIME: 9:00 a.m. - 4 p.m.

SPEAKER: Dr. Donna Mensching (University of Illinois) and
Dr. Paul Hooser (Purdue University)

TOPIC: Neurotoxicants, Large and Small Animal; Household Hazards, Small Animal; Poisonous Plants, Large Animal; Prescription Drug Toxicoses, Small Animal; Venomous Animals, Large and Small Animal

SPEAKER: Dr. Michael Biehl (University of Illinois - Head of Clinical Medicine)

TOPIC: Update from the University of Illinois

The registration materials for this program have been delayed. Feel free to register prior to receiving the forms by making out a check and sending it to: Dr. Dena Heflin, SIVMA Treasurer, PO Box 214, Iuka, IL 62849.

Registration costs are:

SIVMA Member
$75.00 prior to August 30
$95.00 onsite

SIVMA NonMember
$110 prior to August 30
$130 onsite

Retired DVM
$20 prior to August 30
$25 onsite

Spouses and Veterinary Technicians/Staff
$30 prior to August 30
$40 onsite

Sales Representative
$35 prior to August 30
$45 onsite

*SIVMA dues are $200 and due in April of each year.

Eastern Illinois VMA (Region 3)

DATE: September 7, 2006

LOCATION: Hawthorne Suites Conference Center in Champaign, IL

TIME: Social Hour from 6-7 p.m.; Dinner 7-8 p.m.

SPEAKER: Dr. Laura Petree

TOPIC: A Multimodal Approach to Osteoarthritis (Sponsored by Novartis)

Please RSVP to Dr. John Penning at (217) 586-2297 or by Tuesday, September 5, 2006. If you plan to attend, indicate your meal choice (prime rib or chicken scallopini and either cheesecake or apple streudel for dessert) and the number in your party. This is a FREE MEETING!

Northern Illinois VMA (Region 6)

DATE: September 20, 2006

LOCATION: Tebala Shrine Center in Rockford, IL

TIME: Registration 8 a.m.; Program 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

SPEAKER: Dr. Gary P. Oswald, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM

TOPIC: Managing Urinary Tract Disorders

Dr. Oswald received his undergraduate and Veterinary degrees from The Ohio State University and completed his medical residency at Colorado State University. Gary has been the owner and chief internist with the Tampa Bay Veterinary Specialists since 1993. He is a frequent lecturer including recent trips to the U.S., Australia, Europe, the Caribbean and Central America.

We have all been to meetings where you already know 45 minutes of the material in a 50 minute lecture but have to wait until the very end to get the new information! Dr. Oswald works with practicing veteirnarians daily and has compiled current questions from his general practitioner colleagues into short practical answers. In this seminar series, Dr. Oswald has identified approximately 4-6 frequently asked questions to be answered per lecture session. Those questions will then be answered succinctly in approximately 10 minutes per question to allow time for discussion amongst the group. The pace is rapid and changing so the CE is never boring.


Please RSVP to Dr. Gene Gambrel at (217) 586-2297 if you do not receive your registration materials before September 1, 2006.

About the Photo in This Issue...

The smallest and most common American woodpecker, the Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) is found throughout most of North America from Alaska to Florida. It lives in a variety of habitats from wilderness forests to urban backyards, and comes readily to bird feeders.

Cool Facts:

The Downy Woodpecker is a frequent member of mixed species flocks in winter. The woodpecker is less vigilant looking for predators and more successful at foraging when in such a flock. It will readily join chickadees or other birds mobbing a predator, but it remains quiet and does not actually join in the mobbing.

Male and female Downy Woodpeckers may stay in the same areas in winter, but they divide up where they look for food. The male feeds more on small branches and weed stems, and the female feeds more on large branches and the trunks of trees. Males appear to keep the females from foraging in the more productive spots. When the male is removed from a woodlot, the female shifts her foraging to the smaller branches.

The Downy Woodpecker uses sources of food that larger woodpeckers cannot, such as the insect fauna of weed stems. It will cling to goldenrod galls to extract the gall fly larvae. The woodpecker prefers larger galls, and uses the exit tube constructed by the larva to extract it.

The Downy Woodpecker varies gradually across its range. Larger birds are found in the north and at higher elevations, while smaller birds live in the south and at lower elevations. Western woodpeckers tend to have less white in the wings and less black on the outer tail feathers.

I photographed this male (note the red on the back of the head which is absent in the female) in a park in the Quad Cities in November 2004.

Contact Us

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Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association
133 South Fourth St., Suite 202
Springfield, IL 62701

Phone: (217) 523-8387

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