Xylitol Toxicity In Dogs
You may remember the time period where dog owners were concerned with giving their dog’s peanut butter due to it being potentially toxic. This was not actually due to the peanut butter itself, but the xylitol that used to be found in some peanut butter products. So what is so scary about xylitol and why should we keep it away from our dogs?
In this article we will introduce you to the ingredient called xylitol and discuss the details of xylitol toxicities in dogs.
What Is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a substance that is found in many sweet treats due to it being a sugar substitute or artificial sweetener. Though it occurs naturally in many fruits, it is used as a sugar alternative in many snacks due to it having a low glycemic index. Because of this, it is often found in many “sugar free” treats that we keep in our home.
Not only is this sweet sugar alternative used in sugar free treats, but it’s also gaining recognition for its ability to fight dental plaque. This means it is now found in oral care products as well, meaning it can sneak into so many products that we may have in our home.
Last but not least, xylitol is also found in many over the counter medications. You can now find xylitol in many sleep aids, pain relievers, nasal sprays, and more. These medications are already dangerous for our dogs to consume, but the xylitol makes it even more risky.
So why is xylitol so bad for dogs? Let’s dive in!
Is Xylitol Bad For Dogs?
Xylitol is extremely toxic to our pups. Even the smallest amount of xylitol can threaten your dog’s life, proving just how dangerous this substance is for dogs. Xylitol has a serious impact on the way a dog manages their blood sugar and can lead to a dangerous drop in their blood glucose when it is consumed.
In dogs, the blood glucose (blood sugar) is managed by the release of insulin within the body. Whenever our dogs eat something that includes xylitol, their body absorbs the xylitol much faster than a human would. The xylitol quickly makes its way through the bloodstream, causing their pancreas to release a sudden and large amount of insulin. Since insulin is responsible for lowering their blood sugar, this results in a life threatening drop in their blood glucose.
Due to this drastic drop in their blood sugar, a few things can happen to a dog’s body. Dangerously low blood sugar can result in hypoglycemia, seizures, serious liver damage, coma, and even death. Xylitol toxicity can occur between a few minutes to an hour after ingestion and dogs can crash quickly. Because of this, dogs need immediate veterinary care if they eat a product that contains xylitol.
Symptoms Of Xylitol Toxicity In Dogs
Symptoms of xylitol toxicity can occur quickly, and can lead to concerning symptoms in our canine friends. Some of the most common symptoms of xylitol toxicity include:
- Weakness or difficulty standing
- Unsteady gait or difficulty walking
As you can see, xylitol can lead to terrifying symptoms in our canine friends. This is why it is so important to seek immediate veterinary care as soon as you realize that your dog consumed xylitol, as symptoms can set in rapidly. Even if your dog seems okay at the moment, they may not be soon. Since xylitol can affect a dog between a few minutes to an hour after consumption, every moment counts.
What To Do If Your Dog Consumes Xylitol
The most important thing to do when your dog consumes a product with xylitol is to bring the package with the list of ingredients with you when you go to the vet. Every product has a different amount of xylitol in it, with some products being more potent than others. Knowing the amount of xylitol your dog consumed can impact your vet’s choice of treatment.
Though it can be tempting to induce vomiting at home, it is best to avoid this and just get to the vet as fast as possible. Inducing vomiting at home takes extra time, and your dog may not vomit all the contents of their stomach in the end. Because of this, it is safest to leave the treatment in the hands of your vet.
Treating Xylitol Toxicity In Dogs
So what happens after you rush your furry friend into the vet’s office? Though treatment can vary based on how much xylitol was in the product that was consumed, most vets will recommend the same treatment approach.
Ideally, each dog should stay in the hospital with close monitoring if they ever consume xylitol. Xylitol can impact their blood sugar for up to 24 hours after ingestion and it can take that amount of time to see serious changes in their liver values as well. Because of this, around the clock care and medical management is the best way to make sure your pup recovers from their toxicity.
In the hospital your dog will likely have blood work performed to test their liver function, repeated glucose checks to make sure their blood sugar is normal, IV fluids to help support their liver, as well as dextrose as needed if their blood sugar does drop. As long as a dog receives treatment and does not have any damage to their liver, they usually have a full recovery.
Top Products That Have Xylitol In Them
Now that you are aware of the dangers of xylitol in dogs, it’s important to be aware of products that you should look out for. Though you should always try to keep human products away from your dog no matter what, let’s list some of the most well known products that contain xylitol.
- Sugar free gum (this is the most common product that dogs consume)
- Sugar free breath mints and candies
- Some peanut butter
- Sugar free pudding and jello
- Allergy medication
- Sleep aids
Xylitol toxicity in dogs is dangerous, making it essential to understand the details around this sweet substance. Be sure to review the information we listed above, so you can keep your dog safe from xylitol exposure in the future!
My name is Amber. I am a dedicated animal lover that turned my passion into my career. I am a Licensed Vet Tech with 10 years of experience in veterinary medicine, but I recently took my career online to help spread accurate information on animal care. With how vast the online world is, I have a strong desire to ensure that the reader always walks away with helpful pet advice. With the experience I’ve gained from my time in this field, I have been able to travel the world, offering my services to as many animal rescues as I can find. If I am not at my laptop, or back home visiting family, you can find me somewhere in the world, cuddling every furry friend that I can find! Read more about us here.