Peanut butter with the sweetener xylitol might be good for bodybuilders and health-conscious consumers, but it can be deadly for your dog, animal advocates say.

The Capital Area Humane Society has issued a warning to owners not to feed their pets peanut butter containing xylitol.

For years, the low-calorie, natural sweetener has been in sugar-free gum and mints, chewable vitamins, oral-care products and baked goods.

Now, it’s showing up in peanut-butter brands such as nut ‘n more, P28 and Nutty by Nature, according to Mary Hiser, spokeswoman for the Humane Society, which issued the warning. The sweetener is on the lists of ingredients.

“It’s just recently showing up in a few brands of peanut butter,” Hiser said. “I think it’s a concern because it’s a surprise ingredient. You wouldn’t think to look for it in peanut butter."

Xylitol, considered harmless to humans, can cause a dog’s blood-sugar level to drop, lead to liver disease and prevent clotting, resulting in internal and external bleeding.

The number of products that contain xylitol has been growing over the past few years, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ poison-control center. The center examined eight cases in which dogs had been fed peanut butter with xylitol. Five of the dogs either died or had to be euthanized.

The same concerns apply to cats and other animals, Hiser said, but peanut butter is much more of a dog treat.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol found in small amounts in berries and other foods, and extracted from fibrous plants such as cornhusks and some woods for commercial use.

Peanut butter with xylitol is available online and in nutrition and health-food stores. Hiser said she hasn’t heard of any of the mainstream brands sold in grocery stores containing the sweetener.

By Earl Rinehart at The Columbus Dispatch