Sickeningly sweet: Xylitol toxicity in dogs

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol with many uses. It can be used to help prevent cavities, sweeten foods and candies, retain moisture, and prevent fermentation and molding. Because of its versatility, xylitol is being found in a wide range of household products. Xylitol can be found in gum, candy, drinks, baked goods, toothpastes, lotions, deodorants, even peanut butter and much, much more!

Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs if ingested. A small dose can cause a profound drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia) within 30 minutes, which can lead to electrolyte imbalances and seizures. Slightly higher doses can cause liver failure. A single piece of gum ingested by a dog could result in major toxicity and warrant immediate medical attention.

So how can you make sure your pet is safe from the danger of xylitol? Check the label! Xylitol may also be listed as birch sugar, birch sap, birch bark extract, and wood sugar. Some products will have sugar alcohol listed as an ingredient, which should be treated as xylitol until proven otherwise.

If you have xylitol containing products in your home, keep them far out of your pet’s reach! Dogs are notorious for counter surfing, purse digging, and general nosiness.

If you suspect your dog has ingested xylitol, acting swiftly is important to keep your pet safe. Immediately contact Pet Poison Helpline® or your regular veterinarian for further treatment recommendations. If you seek veterinary care, make sure to bring the product packaging or label with you to assist your veterinary care team.


Written by:

Hsuan-Wei Wu, PPH DVM student extern, Kansas State University, Class of 2023

Lizzy Olmsted, CVT, Veterinary Information Specialist