Sweet Poison — Xylitol

The chemical formula of xylitol -- a toxic sweetner for our pets

The chemical formula of xylitol — a toxic sweetener for our pets

If you are not a chemist, this may not make sense to you but it can be deadly for your pet.  Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that is found normally in fruits and vegetables but in very small amounts. The problem is that xylitol is found lots of food stuff that we don’t think about along with a lot of medications. Xylitol is sold in bulk for baking and can be a huge issue in that respect.

Xylitol can cause a drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and can cause liver necrosis in pets.

Xylitol is used as a sugar substitute in gum, mints, toothpaste and even nontoxic amounts can be found in pet dental products. The Pet Poison Helpline notes that the cases of dogs becoming severely intoxicated after eating homemade breads, cookies and cakes that are sweetened with xylitol.

Xylitol is considered a “proprietary ingredient” which means that companies do not have to list it on the label so if your pet appears to have any symptoms of poisoning please call the Pet Poison Helpline and they can tell you if the product has xylitol. The Pet Poison Helpline number is 800-213-6680.

Products that contain xylitol include over the counter medications, prescription medications, vitamins and supplements along with ice cream products, candy, puddings, syrups and jams. A good rule to follow is do not give your pet any “human” foods or medications.

Xylitol poisoning is dose dependent — small amounts can cause hypoglycemia while large amounts can affect the liver. As little as one piece of gum can cause hypoglycemia in a 10 pound dog.

Signs of xylitol poisoning include:

  • vomiting
  • weakness
  • incoordination
  • coma
  • seizures
  • death

These signs can develop within 15-30 minutes of consumption so you need to act quickly. There is no known antidote but IV fluids, supplementation, blood work, and hospitalization. Prognosis is good if your pet is treated before the signs are seen but prognosis is poor if liver signs develop.

Like we have all heard in the past — “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Let’s keep our pets safe!

Have a safe day and get your pets indoors!

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