Now more than ever, a sugar-free substance called xylitol is getting dogs sick and even killing them, and chances are, it’s in your house right now. Research conducted by the Pet Poison Helpline® shows that xylitol poisoning cases have sharply increased in recent years. Although more and more dog owners are becoming aware of xylitol, they still believe it is primarily found in foods like sugar-free gum, candy, and other foods. In more recent times, it has been found in a wider variety of products, including deodorant, peanut butter, personal lubricants, sleep aids, shaving cream, human toothpaste, and more. Learn more about xylitol and the dangers of it by reading below. 

What Is Xylitol? 

Xylitol, also known as birch sugar, is a naturally occurring sweetener that is extracted from the bark of birch trees or leftover corncobs from ethanol production plants. A common ingredient in popular gums, candies, baked goods, diabetic snacks, and foods, xylitol is most well-known for being sugar-free. Sadly, the amount of xylitol varies from product to product and not all sources are identified. 

Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs 

Low dosages of xylitol in dogs can cause hypoglycemia, low blood sugar, while high doses can cause seizures and liver failure. Amounts of xylitol vary from product to product. Knowing the amount of xylitol is in a product that your dog ingested is crucial when determining the severity of their poisoning. If in doubt, contact Pet Poison Helpline® for more details on a specific product and to find out whether your pet needs medical attention. Symptoms can also include: 

  • Vomiting 
  • Inability to walk/stand or lack of coordination 
  • Lethargy or weakness 
  • Body tremors  
  • Seizures  

Treatment of Xylitol Poisoning 

Dogs who have consumed xylitol need help right away. Call Pet Poison Helpline® at (855) 764-7661 and your veterinarian right away for medical attention. The team of experts can help you determine if the dosage was deadly or not and what the next steps need to be. It is best to take your dog to a clinic or animal hospital so your dog can be fully looked over and treated properly. Your veterinarian will likely induce vomiting if your dog is not exhibiting signs of poisoning and the ingestion occurred less than six hours ago. The vet will then attempt to keep your dog’s blood sugar levels normal, which might involve giving him IV fluids containing dextrose supplementation. Your dog may need to spend the night to be monitored.