xylitol and dogs
Dogs are highly toxic to xylitol.
What do I do if my dog consumes xylitol-containing products?
If you believe your pet might have consumed a xylitol-containing food, instantly call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680).
Dogs are highly toxic to xylitol. In dogs, even trace levels of xylitol can result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), epilepsy, liver failure, and even death.
Unless expressly ordered by your doctor, do not cause vomiting or feed food orally to your dog. It is important that you get care for your dog as soon as possible. As certain dogs may still be hypoglycemic, vomiting may exacerbate their condition!
What causes xylitol to be poisonous to dogs?
In both humans and dogs, the level of blood sugar is controlled by the pancreas's release of insulin. Xylitol does not activate the pancreas to produce insulin in humans. When non-primate animals such as dogs consume anything that contains xylitol, the xylitol is rapidly ingested into the bloodstream, resulting in a rapid release of insulin from the pancreas. This sudden release of insulin results of a significant drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia) within 10-60 minutes of consuming the xylitol. If left untreated, this hypoglycemia can be fatal.
What amount of xylitol is toxic to a dog?
The dosage of xylitol that has been confirmed to cause hypoglycemia in dogs is between 50 milligrams (mg) and 100 milligrams (mg) of xylitol per pound of body weight (100 mg per kg). The higher the dosage taken, the greater the chance of developing liver failure. The most frequent cause of xylitol poisoning reported to Pet Poison Helpline* is sugar-free gum. Certain brands of gum contain trace quantities of xylitol, and it will require up to nine pieces to cause serious hypoglycemia in a 45-pound (20-kg) puppy, while 45 pieces would cause liver failure. For other common brands of gum that contain 1 g of sugar per slice, only two pieces can cause serious hypoglycemia, while ten pieces can cause liver failure. Due to the wide variation of xylitol content between brands and flavors of gum, it is critical to determine if a harmful quantity has been swallowed.
Symptoms of xylitol poisoning
Symptoms of xylitol poisoning usually manifest within 15-30 minutes of intake. Hypoglycemia can manifest itself in any or more of the following ways:
Weak with difficulty walking or standing
Seizures or liver failure can occur in serious cases. Dogs suffering from liver disease as a result of xylitol poisoning also exhibit hypoglycemia.