Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs


This article was submitted to Pet Guardian Angels of America by Richard Thomas

Photo by Wikimedia


Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is generally used as a sugar substitute. It can naturally be found on Plums,
corn, berries, lettuce, trees and oats. This substance is commercially used to make a lot of consumables
but people didn’t know that it’s very dangerous to some animals including dogs. In the last few years,
the Xylitol usage has skyrocketed drastically meaning we get access to products with this as an additive
on daily basis.

Some instances, the product is used as a food additive, in oral care products such as toothpaste and in
pharmaceuticals. In your home, you may get this sugar through some sugar-free gum, breath mints,
baked foods, toothpastes and candies. This substance is also finding its way in prescribed human drugs,
in allergy medicine and digestive aids.

How safe is Xylitol?

Xylitol is safe to all humans but it can prove fatal in some animals including your pets. If consumed in
large numbers, this substance may have some laxative effect especially because the substance is not
completely digested in the intestines until your digestive tract adopts.

In dogs and some few other pets, xylitol is highly fatal and even small amounts of this substance are
enough to cause death. In major cases, it causes a condition known as hypoglycemia or low blood sugar
in dogs. If this occurs, other conditions such as liver failure and seizures can follow.

Why does Xylitol kill dogs?

In almost all mammals, the levels of sugar in the blood is controlled through the release of insulin from
the pancreas. In humans, xylitol doesn’t have any effect that induces over stimulation of the pancreas to
release more insulin.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with dogs. If Xylitol is ingested, there are chances that the substance
will be quickly absorbed in the blood to result in potent release of insulin from the pancreas.

This profound increase in insulin production affects the levels of blood sugar in dogs leading to a
condition known as hypoglycemia or low blood sugars. This effect can occur within 10 minutes to 1 hour
of ingesting the substance.

Does the gum contain Xylitol?

Not all gums contain xylitol. This means that if your dog consumed sugared-gum, he’s safe but if the dog
ate a whole lot of gum, it might experience some digestive issues. The dog may also experience some
digestive issues even after ingesting small amounts of some gums.

In cases where a dog eats gum that is sugar-less, there are chances that it has ingested some amount of
xylitol which can lead to organ failure. If you notice that your dog has ingested a sugar-free gam, it’s
important to contact the vet fast enough. If you cannot reach your vet on time, consider some quick
supportive treatment with the help of free online vet . The vet would advise inducing vomiting to remove
the toxins. This is an indication that the earlier you call the vet the better prognosis.

How much Xylitol will kill a Dog?

It has been reported that any amount of Xylitol from 50Miligram per pound of bodyweight is fatal and
can cause death. The higher the dose the shorter the prognosis. The risk of liver failure also increases
with the dose.

Symptoms of Xylitol poisoning

The symptoms of xylitol poisoning can be evident as early as 30 minutes. Some of them will include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Drowsiness
  • Collapse and seizures
  • Jaundice

Factors affecting the severity of Xylitol poisoning

There are various factors that will determine the extent of damages from Xylitol poisoning. This is
especially the case if a dog eat gums or toothpaste, candy or any other product at home containing

The amount consumed

The amount of gum consumed will directly determine the amount of xylitol consumed, the higher the
amount the more xylitol is consumed. From the gum, it may take a lot of gum to cause serious damages.
Though, remember that 1/10 th of the gram per kilogram of body weight is enough to reduce blood sugar

The size and weight of the dog

Some dogs especially those giant breeds have larger liver compared to smaller kind of dogs. This
indicates that it may require more Xylitol to cause the same damage.

Fresh vs. Chewed

A fresh gum contains higher amounts of xylitol which means it’s more dangerous than a chewed gum.

Pre-existing medical conditions

Does your dog has any other existing medical condition such as liver disorders or diabetes? If yes, then
little amounts of xylitol can be fatal.

Determine whether it’s an emergency in 30 minutes

After consuming gums and other substances containing xylitol, there are two main risks that you dog is
more likely to experience. One is intestinal Blockage and the other one is poisoning. The latter is fatal ?
and can cause death if swift treatment is not initiated. So, within the first 30 minutes, try to determine
whether it’s an emergency and get in touch with your vet ASAP.

30 Minutes-1 hour

Even if the condition is not a medical emergency, the dog should be rushed to the vet within the shortest
time possible. That is specifically if the dog experiences some symptoms such as weaknesses, vomiting,
tremors and/or trouble breathing.

1-2 hours: Try to understand Intestinal Blockage

As a matter of fact, it takes up to 24 hours for something to pass through the digestive system of most
animals. The gum is impossible for the body to break which means it may cause blockage. Check for signs
such as Vomiting, loss of appetite, unusual behavior and abdominal tenderness.

Xylitol poisoning in Dogs Diagnosis

The signs and symptoms of xylitol poisoning are clear and they appear early. The vet will also have to
take several lab tests to check the blood levels and determine the severity of damages caused.

How do you Treat xylitol poisoning in Dogs

The vet will initiate treatment through monitoring of normal ranges. He may also check the severity of
damages and give a clear prognosis. The vet will have to conduct several tests and initiate treatment. The
type of treatment will depend on the amount of xylitol consumed, the time duration and how healthy
the dog is.

One main form of treatment is the administration of intravenous fluid therapy to maintain the glucose in
the blood, phosphorous and potassium levels.