Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

Xylitol is one of the most used sugar substitutes. It is a naturally occurring chemical and is present in berries, plums, maize, oats, mushrooms, lettuce, trees, and certain other foods. 

As a sugar alternative, it has a low glycemic index, less calories, and ability to reduce dental plaque buildup. Yet consumption of Xylitol can lead to poisoning in dogs.  


What is Xylitol?  

Xylitol is produced as a white powder that resembles sugar’s appearance and flavor. A wide variety of products contain Xylitol. Products such as, oral care products, medicines, sugar-free gum, candy, breath mints, baked goods, peanut butter, pudding snacks, and cough syrup, contain Xylitol. 

Additionally, Xylitol may be found in various over-the-counter and prescription treatments, including nasal sprays, skin care products, laxatives, digestive aids, allergy meds, and tablets for dry mouth and sleep aids. 

Why is Xylitol popular?  

Compared to sucrose, Xylitol has the same sweetness but 2/3 of the calories and a lower glycemic index.  Glycemic indexes are a measure of how carbohydrate-rich foods boost blood sugar levels relative to glucose.  

For diabetics and others on low-carb diets, Xylitol’s reduced glycemic index makes it an ideal sweetener. Xylitol has been demonstrated to minimize plaque creation, prevent tooth cavities, and increase saliva production. 

Is Xylitol safe for dogs to consume? 

Xylitol is safe for consumption for humans, but not for dogs. Consumption can lead to Xylitol poisonoing in dogs.  

How toxic is Xylitol for dogs? 

Xylitol is exceedingly dangerous for dogs. In dogs, even tiny doses of Xylitol may lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and even death. 

What are the effects of Xylitol for 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. This does not happen in humans.  

Hyperglycemia (low blood sugar) may develop within 10-60 minutes after consumption. Hypoglycemia can be life-threatening if it is not addressed.