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Xylitol

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Poisonous to: Dogs

Level of toxicity: Generally mild to severe, depending on the dose ingested

Common signs to watch for:

  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Collapse
  • Vomiting
  • Tremoring
  • Seizures
  • Jaundice
  • Malaise
  • Black-tarry stool
  • Coma
  • Death

Xylitol is a natural, sugar-free sweetener commonly found in many chewing gums, mints, foods (e.g., pudding and gelatin snacks, etc.), oral rinses, toothpastes, and OTC supplements (e.g., sugar-free multivitamins, fish oils, etc.). The xylitol content of these products can vary widely depending on brand and flavor. In dogs, ingestion of > 0.1 gram/kg can cause an acute, life-threatening low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) within 10-15 minutes. Larger ingestions can result in acute liver necrosis and liver failure. Signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs include weakness, lethargy, collapse, vomiting, tremoring, seizures, jaundice, malaise, black-tarry stool, and even coma or death. If you suspect your dog ingested xylitol, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately for life-saving treatment recommendations. Depending on the symptoms in your dog, vomiting may be induced by your veterinarian. Treatment includes monitoring of blood sugar and liver values, IV fluids, sugar supplementation in IV fluids, and liver protective drugs [e.g., S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)], as needed. Activated charcoal does not reliably bind xylitol, therefore is not recommended. Blood work (evaluating liver function) should be re-evaluated 2-3 days after discharge, depending on the toxic dose ingested.

Poison type: Foods

Alternate names: sugar-free, sugarless, gum, mints, breath mints, toothpaste, chewable vitamins, Trident, Ice Breakers, Orbit, Nicorette, sorbitol, malitol, sugar alcohol, acute hepatic necrosis, hypoglycemia, liver failure