The artificial sweetener xylitol is very toxic to dogs. Look after your sugar-free chewing gum carefully. Xylitol is a sweetener which is often used in sugarless products. It is also frequently found in oral care products as it seems to have some benefits for oral care in people. Items containing xylitol include:
- sugarless chewing gum
- sugarless candy
- mouthwashes and other oral care products
- oral pharmaceuticals, such as certain types of vitamin supplements
- sweeteners packaged for use in the kitchen
Xylitol appears to be relatively safe for people but is metabolized much differently in dogs, causing a rush og Insulin to be released which causes a fatal crash in blood sugar.
Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs
When ingested by a dog, xylitol causes a rapid decrease in blood glucose or blood sugar levels, known as hypoglycemia. Xylitol has also been implicated as a cause of liver damage in dogs, a longer term finding.
Often the first signs seen in dogs are attributable to hypoglycemia and symptoms may include:
- muscle tremors
- lack of appetite
- bleeding and anemia
- increased thirst
- increase in urination
- bloody or black-colored feces
Symptoms of xylitol toxicity can occur as little as 30 minutes after ingestion of the xylitol-containing product.
Treatment of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs
Immediate treatment is needed for dogs consuming xylitol-containing products. Contact your vet immediately if your dog ingests any product containing xylitol.
Your veterinarian may advise that you induce your dog to vomit before transporting him to the surgery or may simply tell you to bring your dog to the surgery immediately.
If toxic doses of xylitol have been consumed by your dog and poisoning is considered likely, your dog will likely need to be hospitalized for monitoring and supportive care. Unfortunately, at the current time, there is no antidote to xylitol available.
Prognosis for Dogs Poisoned with Xylitol
Xylitol can act as a poison in very small dosages. Even one stick of sugarless chewing gum which contains xylitol can be a fatal poison for a small dog.Prognosis for your dog will depend on how much of the xylitol was consumed, the size and weight of your dog, your dog’s physical condition prior to the xylitol poisoning and whether induction of vomiting was successful in removing xylitol from the stomach before absorption could occur.
Xylitol poisoning is frequently fatal.
Prevention of Xylitol Poisoning
Dog owners may prefer not to keep xylitol-containing products in their home. If kept, these products need to be stored in a location where pets have no access to them
Never feed your dog any foods or beverages or chewing gums containing xylitol.
Do not underestimate the extent of your dog’s desire for sweets. Many dogs will raid the trash or surf the kitchen countertops and tables in search of food items, including products containing xylitol.
Pet Products Containing Xylitol
There are a few pet products on the market which contain xylitol in low dosages. These products are often used as “mouthwashes” for pets. Aquadent is a good example.
These pet-labeled xylitol-containing products are safe to use for your dog, assuming that you follow the label directions very carefully.
In higher dosages than those labeled, these products also can act as a pet poison for your dog. Make certain to store these products out of the range of your pet if you use them.