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Beward of Xylitol - Where it could be hiding in your pantry

Artificial sweeteners are common in a variety of human foods found in the supermarket. Most artificial sweeteners are toxic to dogs, however one particular sweetener called xylitol is especially nasty. Xylitol can be found in many products including peanut butter, baked goods, drink powders, coffee sweeteners, candy, ketchup, pancake syrup and more. It is also found in common hygiene products such as mouth wash and sugar free gum. Xylitol is a toxic compound to our canine friends and therefore it is crucial that we remain aware of its prevalence in household items and keep those items out of reach. 

Chemical formula of Xylitol with pen. Chemical formula of Xylitol with pen. Close-up. xylitol stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

When dogs consume xylitol, it leads to a plummet in blood sugar (hypoglycemia) which can lead to seizures, liver failure and even death in dogs. This substance is extremely toxic to dogs. Even when only small quantities are consumed, the onset of symptoms is usually between 10-15 minutes. 

Dogs should be rushed to the vet following the consumption of xylitol containing substances. It only takes 0.1 grams of xylitol per 2.2 pounds of body weight to result in a hypoglycemic state and only 0.5 g/2.2 pounds of body weight to result in liver failure. This can be as little as 2 sticks of sugar free gum for smaller dogs. 

Upon the consumption of xylitol, it only takes a dog 30 minutes for the onset of severe symptoms. The dog’s pancreas will begin secreting large amounts of insulin which will break down glucose stores within fat and muscle tissues. This will result in lethargy, confusion, sudden blindness, stumbling and shaking. Acute liver failure can onset within 72 hours of ingestion. 

Man spending a lazy afternoon with his dog, a French Bulldog Frenchie puppy sleeping on man's laps dog coffee stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Treatment is quite invasive following accidental xylitol consumption. Dogs will be placed on an I.V. in an attempt to flush the xylitol from the patient’s bloodstream. Additionally, intensive monitoring of liver enzymes and blood glucose levels to prevent permanent liver damage. Glucose will be supplemented as needed for pups in a hypoglycemic state. 

In 2018 the Pet Poison Helpline received over 4000 calls regarding xylitol poisoning. As waistline friendly options continue to enter the market at an alarming rate the number of products containing xylitol have risen exponentially. This makes it that much more important to check labels and prevent your pets from getting their paws on anything that may cause them undue harm. Be a proactive pet parent and stash the products that can harm your fur babies. 


Dog eyeing up owner's coffee
Dog eyeing up owner's coffee

View Sources

Campbell, A., & Bates, N. (2010). Xylitol toxicity in dogs. Veterinary Record, 167(3), 108–108. https://doi.org/10.1136/vr.c3789

Robins, M. (2019). What is Xylitol? The Dangers of Xylitol for Dogs. American Kennel Club. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/dangers-of-xylitol/

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