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September 14, 2021

Congressman Schweikert Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Warn Pet Owners of Deadly Household Ingredient

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Reps. David Schweikert (AZ-06), Greg Stanton (AZ-09), Michael Waltz (FL-06), and Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03) introduced the Paws Off Act, legislation that will promote safe labeling requirements for pet safety. Recent reporting has shown an increased use of the sugar alcohol, xylitol, in common household products. This chemical ingredient is extremely toxic to pets when ingested and can cause death or serious illness. Lack of proper labeling and the growing prevalence of xylitol in items such as mints, baked goods, desserts, vitamins, gum, and several other items has made it difficult for pet owners to decipher which products are safe for their pets.

This legislation would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require foods containing xylitol to be considered mislabeled unless it includes a warning label specifying its toxic effects. This would be done through a rulemaking process within one-year of enactment. 

“With roughly 50% of American household’s owning one pet or more, it is vital that families be informed of the dangers many basic items and products can pose to their animal’s lives,” said Rep. Schweikert. “Late surveys conducted by the FDA have shown that an overwhelming majority of pet owners are unaware of the existence of this toxin in their everyday items. I’m proud to introduce this legislation to heighten awareness around this chemical so that pets may remain protected.”

“As a pet owner, I know they often eat things they’re not supposed to. Table scraps are usually harmless, but some common household products that are safe for their owners—like candy and toothpaste, which both may contain xylitol––can be lethal for dogs. I’m proud to introduce the Paws Off Act to improve labeling practices and help families keep this toxic substance away from their pets,” said Rep. Stanton.

“For too long our pets have been exposed to household products that contain chemicals such as xylitol that can be harmful in everyday instances,” said Rep. Waltz. “Introducing this legislation is a step towards protecting our pets at home and educating pet owners of risks in household products.”

“I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the PAWS Off Act which calls for commonsense label ​requirements to protect our pets against xylitol, a dangerous chemical found in many common household items with potentially deadly consequences. Even the Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings over xylitol which is why it’s more important than ever to enact this bipartisan bill and ensure pet owners have access to critical safety information to prevent our loyal companions from being exposed to this dangerous chemical,” said Rep. Grijalva.

“For millions of American households our pets are family. And no family should lose a beloved dog because they didn’t realize a breath mint or toothpaste may be safe for human use but create a toxic reaction in dogs,” said Sara Amundson, President of Humane Society Legislative Fund. “Preventing these tragedies is why we support the PAWS Off Act, and we thank Representative Schweikert and his bipartisan cosponsors for introducing this critical federal bill.”

“Ensuring pet owners are aware of the products and household items that pose a threat to their pets is a critical component of animal welfare,” said Dr. José Arce, American Veterinary Medical Association President. “Despite the deadly harm xylitol presents to dogs and other pets, it is frequently not listed in the ingredient label in products we use on an everyday basis. We must enact the Paws Off Act of 2021 to inform the public about which products contain the artificial sweetener and the poisonous effect it has on our pets. The AVMA applauds Representatives Schweikert, Stanton, Waltz, and Grijalva for championing this necessary legislation in Congress.”  

To read a one-pager of the legislation click HERE

To read the full text of this legislation, click HERE.


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