Is Xylitol Safe for Dogs?

xylitol poisoning in dogs

You may have heard of xylitol's risks for pets. Xylitol is used in a variety of human products, but it is very . You can by learning about xylitol and the items that contain it.

What Is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a naturally occurring alcohol found in many plants. It is found in trace amounts in certain fruits and vegetables. Commercial xylitol is often produced from birch wood or corncobs.

Xylitol has about the same sweetness as sugar but has approximately 40% fewer calories. It is reported to have several health benefits for humans. It can prevent tooth decay, ear infections, and osteoporosis. It can also be used to treat certain diseases.

Xylitol is primarily used as a sweetener for products like gum, candy, chocolate, baked goods, peanut butter, ice cream, and pudding. It is sometimes used in medications for its health benefits as wells as to sweeten some drug suspensions. Because of its humectant characteristics, xylitol is used in several cosmetics, deodorants, and skincare products.

Other names for xylitol include the following:

  • Birch Sugar
  • E967
  • Meso-Xylitol
  • Sucre de Bouleau
  • Sugar Alcohol
  • Xilitol
  • Xylit
  • Xylite
  • Xylo-pentane-1,2,3,4,5-pentol
  • Zylitol

Is Xylitol Safe for Dogs?

Despite its human advantages, xylitol is very harmful to dogs. Xylitol ingestion can lead to two dangerous complications in dogs: hypoglycemia and hepatic necrosis .

Hypoglycemia

When a dog consumes xylitol, the body misidentifies it as sugar. In an attempt to store the sugar, the pancreas releases a flood of insulin. When the pancreas is exposed to actual sugar, it produces far more insulin than it typically would. Excess insulin produces a sharp reduction in blood sugar levels, resulting in hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.

Symptoms of xylitol-related hypoglycemia usually appear 30 minutes after administration and can continue up to 12 hours. Xylitol is a slow-acting sweetener that might take up to 12 hours to produce symptoms. Toxic symptoms generally start with vomiting and escalate to weakness, confusion, incoordination, tremors, collapse, seizures, and coma.

Xylitol-related hypoglycemia may occur when ingested at a dose of 0.1 grams per kilogram, or 0.22 grams per pound of body weight.

Hepatic Necrosis

When consumed in large amounts, xylitol can induce hepatic necrosis (the loss of liver tissue). The cause of this toxicity is unknown, and not all dogs will have liver issues as a result of it. Hepatic necrosis caused by xylitol usually shows up 8-12 hours after consumption. The majority of dogs are already suffering from hypoglycemia at this point. Lethargy, loss of appetite, sadness, and yellow-colored eyes and mucous membranes are all symptoms of liver disease (jaundice). Acute liver failure, internal bleeding, and blood coagulation problems in dogs can all lead to death.

Xylitol ingestion can cause hepatic necrosis at a dose of 0.5 grams per kilogram, or 1.1 grams per pound of body weight.

What To Do If Your Dog Ingests Xylitol

If your dog has consumed a toxin like Xylitol, contact your veterinarian or a pet poison control center right away. If at all possible, save the package and ingredients label. If a veterinary practitioner instructs you to induce vomiting, do so.

A veterinarian should visit your dog as soon as possible. If the xylitol was recently taken, your veterinarian may induce vomiting. The vet will then do lab tests to monitor blood sugar levels, evaluate blood cells, and evaluate organ function. To boost blood sugar levels, your dog may require intravenous dextrose. In many situations, hospitalization is required to monitor blood sugar levels and liver enzymes. If the liver enzymes reach abnormal levels, treatment for liver disease may be required.

Dogs are more likely to survive xylitol toxicity if treated early. Do not delay you suspect your dog has eaten something that contains xylitol.

How to Prevent Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

Keep xylitol-containing and personal care items out of reach of dogs. Because gum is a common cause of xylitol poisoning, don't leave packs of gum laying about.

As a sugar replacement, xylitol is used in certain peanut butter and other nut butters. If you're giving your dog peanut butter or another nut butter as a treat, look for xylitol or its various names in the ingredients list.

In general, you should always see your veterinarian before administering your dog over-the-counter human drugs. If your vet recommends an OTC medicine, make sure to check the ingredient list for xylitol before giving it to your dog.

CITATION

"da Silva, Annelisa Farah, et al. “Medical Applications of Xylitol: An Appraisal.” D-Xylitol, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2012, pp. 325–342", "Dunayer EK. New findings on the effects of xylitol ingestion in dogsVet Med. 2006;12:791–797" ;

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