Xylitol is a common sugar substitute in many candy bars, gum, peanut butter, toothpaste, “sugar free” foods, and other foods.
Humans can digest xylitol while dogs cannot digest xylitol and can be poisonous to dogs and other animals. Be careful when feeding human foods to canines because they could contain xylitol.
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol naturally occurs in fruits such as strawberries, plums, and pumpkins. The processed food industry adds xylitol to many foods to enhance sweetness and to lower total calories.
How does Xylitol Affect Dogs?
A dog’s pancreas maintains its blood sugar levels by releasing insulin when necessary. When ingested, Xylitol overstimulates insulin production and a dangerous drop in blood sugar can occur. Clinical signs of poisoning can occur 10-60 minutes after consumption. Liver damage may also occur.
Even the smallest dosage, a dose of 50 mg of Xylitol per pound of body weight can result in complications.
A breath mint contains around 0.22 to 1 gram of Xylitol. For a lethal dose, a 10-pound dog only needs one breath mint.
Xylitol Dog Poisoning Clinical Signs
Clinical signs can occur 10-60 minutes after Xylitol consumption. The most common clinical signs are:
- Lack of coordination or difficulty walking or standing
- Weakness/sluggishness or lethargy
Contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline® as soon as you believe your dog has eaten items containing Xylitol. Veterinarians will use fluids, IV drugs, and liver protective medications to address the clinical signs.