Xylitol and Dogs

posted: by: Dawn, RVT Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

 Most pet owners know that chocolate is toxic to dogs.  Many even know about grapes and raisins.  But another silent danger is lurking in most pet homes, and can be found in your home, car, purse or jacket.  Gum.  Specifically, gum containing the sugar substitute Xylitol.  Xylitol may also be found in sugar-free candy, mints, nicotine gum, toothpaste and chewable vitamins.


Xylitol, even in tiny doses, is toxic to dogs and has also been shown to be toxic in ferrets.  The effects of Xylitol toxicity can start in as little as 10-15 minutes of ingestion.


So how does Xylitol affect dogs?  Xylitol stimulates the pancreas to release insulin.  As insulin levels in the body rise, the body takes more and more sugar from the cells, which leads to Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.  A dog’s blood sugar can drop dangerously low after eating xylitol.


Xylitol also causes liver damage, which can begin within minutes of ingestion.


Symptoms of Xylitol toxicity can begin within 10-15 minutes, but could take up to several hours.  Symptoms include:

            -  depression               -  weakness     - stumbling     - vomiting     - diarrhea

            -  bleeding/bruising      - seizures        - liver damage


If you suspect your pet has eaten a product containing Xylitol, call your veterinarian immediately!  Xylitol toxicity can be fatal!


Depending on the time frame between ingestion and arriving at the veterinary hospital, your veterinarian may induce vomiting.  Getting your dog to throw up as much of the ingested product as possible, as soon as possible, is very important.  The less Xylitol that is absorbed by the body, the better.


Once your dog has vomited, the veterinarian will administer intravenous fluid therapy to keep your pet hydrated, replace lost electrolytes (from the vomiting), and to give medications to correct low blood sugar and support the liver.  Bloodwork will be evaluated to monitor liver enzymes and thus measure the damage to the liver.


When caught and treated quickly, dogs can survive Xylitol poisoning.  If severe liver damage has already occurred, the prognosis isn’t as positive.


Please store candy, gum, and other human food and all medications out of reach of pets.  Keep purses closed and out of reach also.  Try not to leave loose pets unattended where they could potentially ingest something they shouldn’t.


Remember, if you suspect Xylitol toxicity, minutes are important!  Call your veterinarian immediately!


Suburban Animal Clinic is located in West Columbus off I-70 near I-270.  Suburban Animal Clinic serves Galloway, Hilltop, West Side, Georgesville, West Jefferson, Grove City, Grandview, Upper Arlington (including OSU Campus area), Hilliard and Dublin.