Xylitol Poisoning In Dogs

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Many people know that dogs can’t eat chocolate, but did you know that? For dogs, there is something more toxic than chocolate, and that is xylitol!

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is an organic compound with the chemical formula C5H12O5, native to Finland, a natural sweetener extracted from birch, oak, corn cob, sugarcane bagasse, and other plant materials. In nature, xylitol has a wide distribution and is widely found in various fruits, vegetables, and cereals but at deficient levels. It has the appearance of white crystals or crystalline powder like sucrose.

It is a safe sugar substitute for humans. Because of its high osmotic pressure, it is not easily absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. Diabetic patients who cannot overeat sucrose use xylitol as a substitute for sucrose, and its absorption does not immediately affect blood sugar levels. Sugar-free chewing gum usually contains xylitol ingredients.

But xylitol can be fatal to dogs. Dogs that accidentally ingest xylitol can experience discomforts such as drooling, vomiting lethargy, lethargy, seizures, and coma within 30 minutes. So whenever you suspect that your dog has ingested xylitol, please seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

Xylitol Poisoning

According to data published by the Pet Poison Helpline, the increase in xylitol-containing products has led to a corresponding increase in the number of xylitol-related pet poisoning cases. Calls about xylitol poisoning increased 108 percent between 2015 and 2020, with the most significant one-year increase occurring in 2019 when there was a 47.2 percent increase compared to 2018. Interestingly, calls to the xylitol poisoning helpline in 2020 were second only to calls for general chocolate poisoning.

Why is Xylitol Toxic to Dogs?

Of course, to say that xylitol is poisonous to dogs is not to say that dogs will die if they eat xylitol, but rather that when dogs consume xylitol in specific doses, it can have irreversible consequences.

Xylitol can make a dog’s blood pressure low, and if it drops too low, the brain doesn’t get enough energy to work, which can cause seizures and even trigger death.

Accidental ingestion of xylitol may also trigger liver failure within 24 hours. Even ingesting a small amount of xylitol can cause liver failure in small dogs.

Signs of Xylitol Poisoning

  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased potassium
  • Cramps
  • Liver disease
  • Acute liver failure
  • Death

How Much Xylitol is Toxic to Dogs?

Typically, the dose needed to cause poisoning is at least 0.05 grams per pound of body weight (0.1 grams per kilogram of body weight).

Xylitol Toxicity Calculator

Dog SizeQuantity of Xylitol Ingested to Reach 0.1g/kg Toxic Dose     – HypoglycemiaQuantity of Xylitol Ingested to Reach 0.5g/kg Toxic Dose     – Liver Failure Quantity of Xylitol Ingested to Reach 1g/kg Toxic Dose             – Death 
10#(4.5kg)  Yorkie0.452.254.5
30#(13.6kg) Border Collie1.366.813.6
70#(31.8kg) Labrador3.1815.931.8

How Long Does Xylitol Stay in the Dog’s System?

In dogs, xylitol ingestion causes a rapid (usually within 30 minutes, but may take up to 12-18 hours) and severe increase in blood insulin, resulting in hypoglycemia that can last up to 12-24 hours. Hypoglycemia usually lasts 6-12 hours but may also last for several days.

Can Dogs Recover from Xylitol Toxicity?

Depending on the amount of xylitol ingested, they may recommend keeping your dog in the hospital to monitor its blood sugar and possibly start the medication to protect the liver. Most dogs can recover even from ingesting large amounts of xylitol, but veterinary intervention is usually required.

What Can Veterinarians Do to Treat?

  1. Rapid decontamination (induced vomiting or gastric lavage)
  2. Intravenous administration of glucose (sugar) and fluids
  3. Monitor blood glucose levels and liver values
  4. Use of hepatoprotective agents

What Are Common Foods That Contain Xylitol?

In our lives, in addition to chewing gum, some so-called sugar-free yogurt, peanut butter, jam, cake, etc., all contain xylitol!

And many owners only know that they can not give their dogs too much sugar food, seeing the food in the hand-written “sugar-free” will feel safe, but in fact, many of the food labeled sugar-free are replaced with xylitol.

chewing gum sugar free

Sugar-free Gum

Because xylitol is suitable for people with dental disease and diabetes when you need to eat gum, be careful not to let your dog have the opportunity to reach the gum leading to accidental ingestion.

Human Mouthwash and Toothpaste

Although the content of xylitol in general human mouthwash and toothpaste is not as high as chewing gum, you still need to be careful.

Sugar-free Foods

Many sugar-free foods are on the market, such as ketchup, peanut butter, protein bars, and pudding, which instead use xylitol as the main ingredient.

What Should I Do If My Dog Has Eaten Xylitol?

Suppose your dog is already weak and depressed. In that case, you should not rush to induce vomiting because the stomach contents could be accidentally inhaled into your dog’s trachea and lungs, causing your dog to choke, the details of which will need to be diagnosed by your veterinarian.

If you suspect your dog has eaten a product containing xylitol, contact your veterinarian immediately or the Pet Poison Helpline, Speak to an expert now at (855) 764-7661.

Final Thoughts

Dogs should not eat xylitol. Owners must take extra care in their regular lives to keep your dangerous food and your wallet out of your dog’s reach. When feeding human food for the first time, be sure to check the ingredient list to see if it contains xylitol.

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