With another candy-filled holiday approaching, I wanted to take the opportunity to educate you about XYLITOL.
Do you know about Xylitol? Have you heard of this chemical before?
It’s not necessarily a new thing; in fact, veterinarians have been doing their best to educate their clients about the dangers associated with Xylitol. However, I am still finding plenty of people who don’t know why it’s an issue. Enough people to warrant a blog article. 😉
So what is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a type of artificial sweetener found in many food and health products. Typically we think of things like gum and candy containing xylitol, however it can now be found in prescription and non-prescription medications, mouthwash, and even some types of peanut butter.
From the Pet Poison Hotline:
Some of the places we have seen xylitol include chewable vitamins, gummy vitamins, lozenges/cough drops, sublingual supplements and medications (over the counter and prescription), liquid medications (over the counter and prescription), breath sprays, medication/supplement sprays, toothpastes, nasal sprays, mouth rinses/washes, essential oil products, cosmetics, and many sugar-free foods and baking ingredients.
That’s a long list, and it’s getting longer! Xylitol may be very safe for humans, but it can be deadly if ingested by your dog.
(The jury is still out on whether it affects cats the same way. We think they may be sensitive to xylitol, but they are too smart to eat gum, so there’s not a lot of research.)
Why is Xylitol toxic for my dog?
Without going into a bunch of technical jargon regarding pharmacokinetics (big fancy word alert!), suffice it to say that even a very small amount of xylitol causes severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and liver damage in a very short period of time after ingestion. In as little as 24 hours liver failure can occur.
It might be a little shocking, but I want you to check out this graphic depicting the significance of the small amount of xylitol it would take to kill a dog, compared to chocolate:
Did you see that a dog the size of a Border Collie would die if they eat ONE pack of gum containing xylitol??
As you can see, the ingestion of anything containing xylitol is not something to overlook or “wait and see”.
What should I do if I think my dog has ingested something containing xylitol?
Initial signs of xylitol toxicity can occur in as little as 10 minutes. Some of the signs you may see include:
- ataxia (incoordination)
- increased respiratory rate
If you see any of these signs, and you suspect your pet has chewed or ingested something containing xylitol, take the packaging, any remaining product, and your pet, and GET THEE TO THE VET.
Is there any good news?
The good news is that there is treatment available for your pet if they ingest xylitol! It will likely involve hospitalization, but pets that are treated early typically recover well. Yay!
I hope you feel educated and empowered by this information, rather than scared witless! 🙂
Prevention is key here. Keep anything that is not dog food, treats, or toys far out of reach of your pooch.
If they can’t reach it, they can’t eat it.