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Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs…It’s Deadly!

So what exactly is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance that is used as a sugar substitute. It's a sugar alcohol and found naturally in berries, plums, corn, oats, mushrooms, lettuce, trees, and some other fruits.

Xylitol has been around for decades, but it has been relatively recently that its use as a sugar substitute has increased dramatically. The biggest rise in popularity within the dental industry where it is being used extensively in sugar-free gum and dental floss for its plaque and cavity preventing properties.

How safe is xylitol?

Xylitol is safe for use in humans. However, it is EXTREMELY toxic to dogs and a very small amount can be deadly. A single stick of gum with xylitol could cause the death of a large dog such as an 80 pound Labrador. Once ingested by a dog, the xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, and liver failure. All three of those potentially resulting in death.

What do I do if my dog has ingested something that contains xylitol?

If you suspect that your pet has eaten a product that contains xylitol, it will be vitally important to get treatment for your dog as quickly as possible. Call us, the emergency clinic, or the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) immediately!

What are the signs and symptoms of xylitol ingestion?

Signs and symptoms develop quickly, typically within 15 minutes of ingestion. Signs that you may witness outwardly could include one or all of the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Lack of coordination or difficulty walking or standing
  • Depression or lethargy
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Can this poisoning be treated? 

There is no magic pill or medication that will “cure” xylitol poisoning. There are things that we can do though to support the pet and minimize damage from the ingestion of the poison. It is essential that your pet receive fast and aggressive treatment.to minimize the possibility of the development of severe problems.

If my pet is treated, what are the chances for recovery?

The long-term prognosis is good for dogs that are treated before clinical signs develop, or for dogs that develop hypoglycemia that is quickly reversed. If liver failure or a bleeding disorder develops, the prognosis is poor. If the dog lapses into a coma, the prognosis is extremely poor.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns please contact us immediately.

Until next time, 

Dr. Wes Arnett


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