Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar-alcohol found in many types of fruits and vegetables and used as a sugar substitute in many common products. Appealing to dieters because of its sweet taste and small amount of calories, Xylitol is also widely used by diabetics who must monitor their sugar intake. While it has been determined to be a safe product for human consumption, Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs.
In both dogs and humans, the pancreas controls the level of blood sugar through the release of insulin. When Xylitol is ingested by humans there is only a small release of insulin.
However, when Xylitol is ingested by a dog:
Signs of Xylitol toxicity develop rapidly, sometimes within 15 to 30 minutes following ingestion, but are usually evident within 1 to 2 hours. In some animals, toxicity may not show for up to 12 hours. Symptoms include:
In an effort to help their pet, it is important that when clients suspect Xylitol ingestion they know to:
Clients need to understand that prompt veterinary care is essential in order to help an animal that has ingested Xylitol. The basic care may consist of:
Xylitol is found naturally in small amounts in many fruits, vegetables, and some trees, for example:
As manufactured and used as an added ingredient, Xylitol is commonly found in many types of products, for example:
Xylitol is even found in small amounts in some veterinary pet products, such as in some toothpastes and mouthwashes. When a veterinary product is found to contain Xylitol, it is important to follow the prescribed dose to avoid potential poisoning
The Xylitol dose necessary to cause hypoglycemia:
The level of Xylitol in most chewing gums or breath mints:
For a ten pound dog, ingesting one piece of gum may be all it takes for the animal to suffer from hypoglycemia.
Clients should be advised to check the product labels of items being brought into the home, watching for alternative names on the product list, including:
When products are found to have Xylitol as an ingredient, make sure that they are put away so pets can’t get to them.
When Xylitol ingestion is caught early and the animal receives veterinary treatment right away, the prognosis for outcome is better. However, since even a small quantity of Xylitol can be deadly, it is important to advise clients that if they suspect their pet has ingested even a tiny amount of Xylitol that they seek veterinary help immediately.