What Is Xylitol And Why Is It Deadly To Your Dog?

By December 5, 2019 Uncategorized

What Is Xylitol And Why Is It Deadly To Your Dog? | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

When it comes to keeping your dog healthy, there are a lot of factors to consider.

Is your dog getting enough exercise?

Do they have comfortable living conditions where they feel safe, and can relax?

And of course, what you’re feeding your dog plays a huge role, and this involves ensuring you aren’t giving your dog food which could make it sick.

Today we’re going to talk about xylitol, a common food additive that can be deadly to your dog.

What Is Xylitol?

Xylitol is an alcohol which occurs naturally in many plants, including fruits and vegetables.

Due to its sweet taste, xylitol is often used as a substitute to sugar in “sugar free” mints, gum, and other candy.

It can also be used to help prevent tooth decay in humans, and for this reason can be found in gum and toothpaste.

Foods containing xylitol are poisonous to your dog and even a small amount can be deadly.

Keep reading to learn more about what could happen if your dog consumes xylitol.

What Happens When Your Dog Eats Xylitol?

To humans, if you eat a lot of xylitol, it might cause some digestive issues. But in general, it’s well tolerated.

For our non-primate friends, though, it’s a different story.

If your dog, or cat for that matter, eats xylitol, it causes an insulin spike. This can lead to hypoglycemia, a condition where their blood sugar drops.

It can also lead to severe liver failure, which is deadly.

Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

How do you know if your dog has ingested xylitol?

Symptoms to watch for include:

● Tiredness and weakness
● Vomiting
● Seizures
● Rapid heart rate
● Jaundiced gums
● Black, tarry stool or diarrhea
● Trembling

If you notice any of these, contact your vet or emergency clinic right away.

What To Do If Your Dog Ingests Xylitol

If you suspect your dog has eaten something with xylitol, check the ingredients on the package. It might be listed as “sugar alcohol”.

If you do see it listed there, check to see how much there is. If it’s listed as one of the first three to five ingredients, you have reason to be concerned.

Try to calculate if the amount of xylitol ingested is toxic to your pet.

In dogs a dose greater than 0.1g/kg is considered toxic – if you’re not sure, contact your vet.

Your vet will do a blood sugar level check and depending on this, may do anything from inducing vomiting to starting an IV of dextrose.

They may also put your dog on liver protectants such as milk thistle for a few weeks.

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Common Sources of Xylitol

If you aren’t sure about whether or not you have xylitol in your home – well, you probably do.

Keep reading to learn about common places where this is found.

1. Toothpaste

Xylitol is used as an ingredient in toothpaste for two reasons.

Its sweet flavour makes toothpaste more appealing, and it has properties which help strengthen teeth and fight plaque.

So if your dog has made their way into your bathroom and has started to chew on the toothpaste tube, a visit to the vet might be a good idea.

2. Most “Sugar Free” Products

If you’re buying groceries which are labelled as “sugar free” it’s important to be aware xylitol is often used as the sweetener for these items.

Sometimes this will be clearly labelled, and other times it won’t be so noticeable, making it important to check labels.

Of particular note is the use of xylitol in sugar-free peanut butter.

Because so many dogs love peanut butter, it’s important to make sure the kind you’re getting is xylitol free.

3. Chewing Gum

If you like to chew on sugar-free gum, it’s best to keep it far away from your dog.

Because the levels of xylitol vary greatly depending on the brand of gum, the amount your dog needs to ingest before they start to get sick can vary greatly as well.

If you discover your dog has eaten chewing gum, it’s important to know what brand it was, and how much they ate. That way, your vet can get a better idea of what the risk of illness is.

4. Baked Goods

Xylitol has become a common sugar-substitute for diabetic people who like to bake.

Or, perhaps you’re looking to buy pre-baked goodies which are lower in sugar – chances are they contain xylitol.

If you’re buying your baked goods fresh, talk to the baker to find out if their treats have xylitol. And if you’re getting pre-packaged baked goods, check the package.

5. Deodorants

This one may come as a surprise – why do you need an artificial sweetener in your deodorant?

Xylitol has humectant properties, which means it can help a product retain moisture.

Your best bet is to keep these sorts of personal care products up high and out-of-reach of your dog.

Your adult dog is unlikely to snack on your deodorant, but a curious puppy may stick their nose in your gym bag.

Book an Appointment at Bickford Park Animal Hospital

Are you worried that your dog has consumed something with xylitol in it?

Or perhaps you’re just looking for a new veterinary service provider.

Whatever your issue Bickford Park Animal Hospital can help – give us a call today to set up an appointment.

In yours and your pet’s health,

Dr. Helen Foster, DVM
Bickford Park Animal Hospital
807 Bloor St W,
Toronto, ON M6G 1L8

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Bickford Park Animal Hospital is a veterinary clinic in Toronto, located across from Christie Pits park, committed to the highest level of caring and treatment for cats and dogs.