Xyl­i­tol tox­i­c­ity in dogs

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - NEWS - with Tim Craig, BVSC VET­ERI­NAR­IAN

XYL­I­TOL is a nat­u­ral sweet­ener that is be­ing in­creas­ingly used in food or other prod­ucts in Aus­tralia as a sugar al­ter­na­tive. It is most of­ten used in lol­lies and chew­ing gum, but can also be found in tooth­paste, mouth­wash, peanut but­ter and some­times in baked items. It is quite poi­sonous to dogs, with only small amounts caus­ing ill­ness. A stick of sugar free gum con­tain­ing xyl­i­tol is enough to be a toxic dose for small to medium sized dogs. As a sugar al­co­hol it trig­gers the body to re­lease large amounts of in­sulin that in turn drives down the blood sugar lead­ing to all the prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with hy­po­gly­caemia (low blood sugar). Th­ese symp­toms usu­ally present within 15-30 min­utes of in­ges­tion and may in­clude vom­it­ing, lethargy, wob­bli­ness, col­lapse, seizure or in the most se­vere cases fa­tal liver fail­ure. In some cases poor blood clot­ting may de­velop and bleed­ing oc­curs. If not di­ag­nosed and treated promptly xyl­i­tol tox­i­c­ity can eas­ily lead to death from low blood sugar. Treat­ment cen­tres around re­place­ment flu­ids con­tain­ing glu­cose and potas­sium, which is de­pleted in the blood by ex­cess in­sulin as well. Blood test mon­i­tor­ing is re­quired to en­sure the blood sugar and potas­sium nor­malise and re­main nor­malised. Liver pa­ram­e­ters are also mon­i­tored as the de­vel­op­ment of liver fail­ure car­ries a much poorer prog­no­sis. As al­ways, pre­ven­tion is bet­ter than cure. Avoid­ing sugar free lol­lies and gums is a must. If you sus­pect your dog has eaten a xyl­i­tol con­tain­ing prod­uct then in­duc­ing vom­it­ing promptly may stop clin­i­cal signs de­vel­op­ing.

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