Aspartame is generally not added to pet foods or treats, your dog may ingest some if you feed him the occasional human snack or if he accidentally ingests toothpaste, diet baked goods, bubblegum or other human consumables his inquisitive nose may lead him to. Aspartame is made from the aspartic amino acid, a neurostimulator that, in large amounts, has been linked to memory disorders, brain tumors and a host of other health issues in humans, dogs and rodents.
In laboratory studies, aspartame is shown to have no adverse effects on dogs in dosages up to 4,000 milligrams per kilogram -- or 2.2 pounds -- of body weight. Memory and learning skills began to be affected in dosages exceeding 5,000 milligrams. If your dog happens to ingest aspartame on an accidental basis, it is unlikely he would be able to consume enough to endanger his life, as 8 ounces of artificially sweetened yogurt contain only 124 milligrams.
Xylitol - A Hidden Killer
Sometimes found in the same products as aspartame, the sweetener xylitol causes a rapid decline in blood sugar in dogs, as well as seizures, liver failure and death when consumed in even small amounts, such as the equivalent found in one sugar-free cupcake. Read product labels carefully and keep sugar-free products out of pets' reach or eliminate them from your household altogether.
By J.T. O'Connell
Dogtor J: Food Intolerance in Pets and Their People -- Aspartame
The Pet Whisperer: Dangers of Aspartame
Ask a Vet a Question: Are These Foods Toxic to Dogs?
Pet MD: Xylitol Kills Dogs So Kill the Xylitol in Your Diet
Nutra Sweet Company: How Much Aspartame Is Contained in Various Products
Informa Health Care: Aspartame -- A Safety Evaluation Based on Current Use Levels, Regulations and Toxicological and Epidemiological Studies
U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Studies on the Effects of Aspartame on Memory and Oxidative Stress in Brain of Mice
About the Author
A former world-class swimmer, J.T. O'Connell shares her love of adventure travel, extreme sports and pets through thousands of published articles. O'Connell studied journalism at Grand Canyon University, and brings professional experience as a tour guide and travel consultant. She authors the blog, Traveling With Large Dogs.