Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used in many baked goods, candy, and sugar-free gum. Many people use it to help reduce their sugar intake. But did you know that even small amounts of xylitol can be fatal to dogs?
Is Xylitol bad for dogs?
Yes, Xylitol is bad for dogs. When dogs ingest Xylitol it is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, which triggers a sudden release of insulin. This causes a significant decrease in blood sugar (hypoglycemia), potentially in as little as 10 minutes. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can be fatal.
How much xylitol will hurt a dog?
A 50 mg dose of Xylitol per pound of body weight is enough to trigger hypoglycemia in dogs. The higher the dose above this, the greater the risk of liver damage which can develop into liver failure if treatment is not administered quickly.
How do I know if my dog has xylitol poisoning?
Your dog may have symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and weakness. If your dog ingested a large amount of xylitol, the symptoms can be life-threatening.
Watch for these symptoms:
- Poor coordination
- Difficulty standing
If you suspect that your dog has ingested xylitol, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately. Your vet may want to perform blood work and a urinalysis to assess liver function and kidney function. If the ingestion was recent, he or she will likely induce vomiting and give activated charcoal to bind up the remaining xylitol in the stomach.
How long does it take for xylitol to affect a dog?
Xylitol can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours to cause symptoms in your dog. The first sign of xylitol poisoning may be vomiting within 10 minutes after ingestion of the product containing xylitol.
Other signs include lethargy, tremors, and seizures. If left untreated, these symptoms can lead to serious problems such as liver failure or even death within 24 hours.
What is the prognosis for dogs with xylitol poisoning?
Xylitol poisoning is serious but treatable if caught early enough. The prognosis depends on how much xylitol was ingested and how quickly treatment was started.
How to treat xylitol poisoning in dogs at home
If you suspect your dog has eaten something containing Xylitol, you should contact your veterinarian, even if your dog seems fine. Symptoms can occur between 10 and 90 minutes after ingestion.
You should not try to induce vomiting unless the vet advises you to. If you can, take a sample of the product your dog ate with you. The packaging will show the amount of Xylitol which can help your vet to treat your dog more effectively.
Your veterinarian will immediately induce vomiting and take blood samples. Unfortunately, there is no specific antidote for Xylitol, so your vet will prescribe supplemental treatments such as IV fluids and medication to bring blood sugars back to a normal range. For dogs who have suffered liver damage, the vet will prescribe liver protectants to prevent any further tissue degradation.
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in plant tissues and is widely used as a sugar substitute. It has 40% fewer calories than refined sugar but tastes just as sweet.
Xylitol is found in many fruits and veggies including berries, corn, mushrooms, and plums. It is also found in many foods such as gum, candy, protein bars or powders, jams, honey (not raw honey), chocolate, toothpaste and mouthwash, medicines, and vitamin supplements.
Xylitol has many names, so check your food labels for any of the following:
- Birch sugar
- Xylit or Xylite
Conclusion of Xylitol and dogs
Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is found in many candies, gum, toothpaste, and other products. While it is considered safe for people, it can be very dangerous for dogs.
Xylitol poisoning affects the digestive tract of dogs causing vomiting and diarrhea within 10 minutes to 2 hours after ingestion. If left untreated, the dog may develop liver failure and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Dogs who eat large amounts of xylitol may experience seizures or cardiac arrest.
It’s important to know what products contain xylitol so that you can avoid giving them to your dog.