The Food and Drug Administrationhas a word of advice for pet owners: keep your dogs and ferrets away fromxylitol,a sugar alcohol that's usedin many common products, including sugar-free baked goods, candy, oral hygiene products, and chewing gum.

Xylitol can be found in many over-the-counter drugs such as chewable vitamins and throat lozenges and sprays. It can also be purchased in bulk bags for use in home baking. These products are intended only for human use.

FDA said it is aware of complaints involving dogs that experienced illness associated with the accidental consumption of xylitol. Xylitol is safe for humans but it can be harmful to dogs and ferrets.

FDA is advising consumers to always read the label on products and to not presume that a product that is safe for humans is safe for your pet.

The FDA reports included clinical signs such as a sudden drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia), seizures and liver failure. If you suspect your pet has ingested xylitol, some signs to look for are depression, loss of coordination and vomiting. The signs of illness may occur within minutes to days of ingesting xylitol.

Owners should consult their veterinarian or pet poison control center immediately for advice if they know or suspect that their pet has ingested a human product containing xylitol.