The Quick and Dangerous Effects of XYLITOL in Dogs

Updated: Feb 19, 2020

What is it?

Xylitol is an alcohol found in plant material. Originally found in fruit & vegetable fibers in the late 19th century, it gained popularity in Finland during World War II as an artificial sweetener when access to sugar was limited.

What is it used for?

It tastes sweet and has few calories. More importantly, our bodies don’t require insulin to turn Xylitol into an energy source, so there’s little to worry about in terms of blood sugar levels. Another property of xylitol that makes it a useful product is that it prevents acid-producing bacteria from forming in the mouth and damaging teeth.

Where is it found?

The most common place to find xylitol is sugar-free foods and candies, as well as toothpaste and mouthwash. Products to look out for that may contain xylitol:

What happens when dogs consume xylitol?

After consumption, xylitol causes a dog’s pancreas to release a large amount of insulin.

Blood sugar drops, followed by these symptoms:

  • Vomiting (usually the first symptom)

  • Walking as if drunk

  • Weakness

  • Trembling

  • Seizures

  • Collapse

  • Liver destruction (when larger amounts of xylitol are consumed)

About 50mg of xylitol per 1 pound of dog weight is enough to cause hypoglycemia. If you have a 50 pound dog, that would be about 2.5 grams of xylitol. Considering that most gum containing xylitol has anywhere from 0.3 to 1.5 grams of xylitol per piece, it could only take 1 or 2 pieces to cause serious damage.

What should you do if your dog ingests xylitol?

Contact a veterinary hospital immediately. If you are unable to get the hospital on the phone, contact POISON CONTROL.

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