What is Xylitol And Why Is It Dangerous For Dogs?

November 30, 2016 | We Care | Tips from Elaine Coe

As dog owners, we all know that some foods are toxic to dogs: chocolate, raisins and grapes, garlic and onions, avocados, and macadamia nuts, just to name a few. What most dog owners don’t know, is that gum, mints and other sugar-free foods can be deadly to our canine kids.

Many sugar-free items contain a natural sweetener, or sugar alcohol, called xylitol. Xylitol is deadly! Well, it can be, for dogs. For humans, xylitol is a good alternative for diabetics and it has anti-cavity properties.

What Kinds of Products Contain Xylitol?

Gum, mints, toothpaste, mouthwash, nicotine gum, sugar-free cookies and muffins, vitamins, supplements, lip balm, pudding and gelatin, and even some brands of PEANUT BUTTER!

Yep, even Fido’s favorite snack and medicine delivery vessel (peanut butter), can contain xylitol.

According to Dr. Jason Nichols, there are several keywords to look for on food packaging that might indicate the presence of xylitol. They include:

  • Sugar free
  • Reduced sugar
  • No sugar added
  • Naturally sweetened
  • Aspartame free
  • Sweetened with birch sugar
  • Low carb
  • Anti-cavity

Avoiding these items isn’t feasible for many of us (especially if you like to brush your teeth), but you must be vigilant about where you store them. Take extra care to ensure your dog cannot access these items.

“Take extra care to ensure your dog cannot access these items.”

What Can Xylitol do to Your Dog?

Consuming even a small amount of xylitol can cause your dog to become hypoglycemic (low blood sugar). Hypoglycemia can cause seizures, coma, and even death. The Pet Poison Hotline notes that xylitol can cause acute, life-threatening hypoglycemia within 10 to 15 minutes!

In larger doses, xylitol can cause acute hepatic necrosis (literally, sudden liver death), or liver failure. Certain pre-existing conditions, like diabetes and hepatitis, can make your dog even more susceptible to xylitol toxicity.

What are the Symptoms of Xylitol Toxicity?

Common symptoms include:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Vomiting
  • Tremoring
  • Seizures
  • Jaundice
  • Coma

If you’re certain your dog has consumed a product containing xylitol, even before symptoms start, you should contact your vet immediately.

What Can You do to Prevent Xylitol Poisoning?

Preventing your dog from ingesting xylitol requires a watchful eye. If you have kids, make sure they know to NEVER give your dog a piece of gum or a breath mint. Be careful where you put your purse, book bag, or briefcase (we usually keep gum, lip balm, etc. in our bags). Place sugar-free baked goods far out of your dog’s reach.

If you brush your dog’s teeth, don’t use toothpaste with xylitol in it. Check the ingredient labels on pudding, peanut butter, and other things you might be tempted to share with your dog. Walk your dog on a short leash (you don’t want him snatching up a used piece of gum on the sidewalk).

Knowing what xylitol is, where to find it, what it does to your dog, and how to limit your dog’s access to it is only half of the battle. Be sure to share this information with other dog owners.

Via Unsplash

If you enjoyed this post, you should read “Pet Insurance And Why You Need It” here.

Have you had any experience with items on this list? Share how it affected your pup below:

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