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Xylitol is a sweetener often found in sugar-free gums, candies, toothpastes, mouthwashes and baked goods. There are many cases where dogs have gotten into purses or broken into entire bags of sugar-free treats to their pet parents’ horror.
According to PetMD.com, “When ingested by dogs, xylitol may cause vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures, and in severe cases, liver failure. This naturally-occurring sugar substitute is also available as a granulated powder for cooking and baking.”
What Can Cause Xylitol Poisoning?
PetMD says, “The ingestion of xylitol or xylitol-containing products causes a rapid release of the hormone insulin, causing a sudden decrease in the dog’s blood glucose.”
Once this happens, xylitol poisoning can cause hypoglycemia or even hepatic necrosis in your dog.
“The problem is that xylitol does not offer the extra calories of sugar and the rush of insulin only serves to remove the real sugar from the circulation,” according to marvistavet.com. “Blood sugar levels plummet resulting in weakness, disorientation, tremors, and potentially seizures. The hypoglycemic dose of xylitol for dogs is considered to be approximately 0.1 grams per kilogram of body weight (about 0.45 grams per pound). A typical stick of gum contains 0.3 to 0.4 grams of xylitol which means that a 10-pound dog could be poisoned by as little as a stick and a half of gum. The dose to cause hepatic necrosis is 1 gram per kilogram of body weight, about 10 times more than the above dose. In the example above, the 10-pound dog would have to find an unopened package of gum and eat it for liver destruction to occur.”
According to PetMD.com, “In most cases, symptoms will develop within 15 to 30 minutes of ingestion of the xylitol. However, there are some sugar-free gums that delay the onset of symptoms for up to 12 hours.”
Some of the more common symptoms of xylitol poisoning listed by PetMD.com and vetinfo.com include:
Loss of coordination
Decrease in potassium (hypokalemia)
“There may also be cases of widespread bleeding in the dog. This can occur in the stomach, intestines, or abdomen. The dog’s gums may also be affected: ecchymoses (dark red splotches on the gums) and petechiae (dark red specks on the gums),” PetMD.com mentions.
How is Xylitol Poisoning Diagnosed?
According to PetMD.com, “Dogs with xylitol toxicity may have bleeding disorders; coagulation profiles and fibrinogen testing will be done to confirm these types of disorders.”
How is Xylitol Poisoning Treated?
PetMD.com states, “Your veterinarian may suggest several methods to induce vomiting. However, this does not always improve the dog’s condition. If the dog has low blood sugar or serum potassium, your veterinarian will place the animal on a fluid therapy regimen. Your dog may also need frequent blood tests in order to assess the severity of his xylitol toxicity and to monitor his liver function.”
Vetinfo.com states “An IV will need to be administered in order to give your dog intravenous fluids to increase their glucose levels. The glucose levels will be monitored for the next 24 hours or so by your vet, to ensure that coma or shock do not occur. Around the 24 hour mark, if your dog’s glucose levels and liver values are normal, he can be sent home with you.”
Vetinfo.com advises, “Always make sure you keep anything your dog can consume that may harm him stored where he can’t access it. Don’t assume that because something is in a package, your dog won’t bother with it. He can smell it, and doesn’t know that it’s dangerous to eat.”
We have often see the viral videos of dogs getting into the trash and even destroying entire packages of candies and treats, so the chances of this happening to your pooch is very high.
PetMD.com warns, “Check the ingredient list of all your household products which may contain xylitol (gums, candies, toothpaste, etc.). Place those items containing xylitol in locked cabinets or areas too high for your pet to access. If your dog is extremely persistent about stealing food, it is probably best not to have xylitol in your home.”
Find A Vet HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.