Xylitol toxicity in dogs
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.