Xylitol can cause poisoning in dogs
XYLITOL is a naturally occurring substance that is widely used as a sugar substitute.
Chemically, it is a sugar alcohol, and found naturally in berries, plums, maize, oats, mushrooms, lettuce, trees, and some other fruits. Commercially, most xylitol is extracted from maize fibre, birch trees, hardwood trees and other vegetable material. Although it has been used as a sugar substitute for decades, its popularity has increased dramatically in the last few years due to its low glycaemic index and dental plaque fighting properties. Products that contain xylitol include sugar-free gum, candies, breath mints, baked goods, pudding snacks, cough syrup, children’s chewable or gummy vitamins and supplements, mouthwash and toothpaste.
Xylitol is safe for use in humans but extremely toxic in dogs. In both humans and dogs, the level of blood sugar is controlled by the release of insulin from the pancreas. Xylitol does not stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas in humans. However, when dogs eat something containing xylitol, the xylitol is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in a potent release of insulin from the pancreas. This rapid release of insulin causes a rapid and profound decrease in the level of blood sugar (hypoglycaemia), an effect that occurs within 10-60 minutes of eating the xylitol.
If left untreated, this hypoglycaemia can be life-threatening. At higher doses, xylitol also causes liver failure. Symptoms of xylitol poisoning develop rapidly, usually within 15-30 minutes of ingestion. Signs of hypoglycaemia may include vomiting, weakness, lack of coordination, depression, lethargy, tremors, seizures and coma. If your dog has eaten products containing xylitol, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. Vomiting should not be induced unless advised by your veterinarian. If you personally use products containing xylitol, make sure they are stored safely, out of reach of your pets.
The toxicity of xylitol for cats and other species is not documented at this time, although there has been some concern that other non-primate species (eg, cats, ferrets, etc) may react to xylitol in a similar manner as dogs.