Did you know that this “harmless” sugar-alternative for humans can be fatal for dogs. Xylitol poisoning in dogs is a real threat and the effects can be devastating since it’s toxic for dogs and many other animals, too.
You’d normally expect to find Xylitol in human foods such as sugar-free chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, vitamin supplements, a small handful of peanut butter brands (WARNING as to which brand you give your dog), and other 'low-sugar' or sugar-free products.
Sadly, Xylitol poisoning often goes unreported so likely, it’s more common that we are being told. So, the best way to avoid this altogether is prevention.
All human foods should be kept out of reach of your dog, but you need to be especially vigilant around foods or “treats” that might contain this toxic sweetener.
Ensure that items like chewing gum aren’t left lying around or in pockets/bags where dogs are tempted to raid.
Why is Xylitol Toxic to Dogs?
According to bluecross.org Xylitol is toxic to dogs for the following reasons:
“Xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) as a dog’s pancreas will confuse it with real sugar, which makes it release more insulin. The insulin then removes the real sugar in the body, leading to plummeting blood sugar levels. Another reaction to xylitol is liver failure and this is even more serious, but it’s not known what causes this to happen.”
It only takes a small amount, so this must be a zero tolerance product - depending on the size and breed of your dog and how much Xylitol has been consumed can cause the severity to range from bad to fatal.
What should you do if your dog’s eaten Xylitol?
If you suspect that your dog’s eaten something that contains Xylitol, you need to get them to a vet straight away. The reason being that since it can be absorbed into the bloodstream rapidly, it will affect your dog quickly.
If a drop in blood sugar levels is prevented or brought under control quickly, the outcome looks better for your dog.
Any delay could result in your dog becoming seriously ill, so ensure you act FAST if you suspect they’ve consumed a food item with Xylitol in it. If you can, take the food packaging of what you suspect they’ve ingested.
Xylitol poisoning symptoms include:
- Seizures and tremors
To treat your dog, your vet will try everything they can to help - often starting with inducing vomiting to get it out of their system fast. Recovery will likely involve a sugar intravenous drip to regulate their blood sugar levels. If their liver has been affected this would require more serious intervention.
So, the best thing you can do now that you’re aware is keep all products containing it, and all other human food, out of the reach of all pets in the household.
NOTE: some “human” peanut butters contain Xylitol, so always check ingredients closely. Remember, if in any doubt whatsoever ALWAYS consult your vet first.