The Dangers of Xylitol!

Xylitol is a common sugar substitute (also known as sugar alcohol) used in a wide variety of items these days.  It seems to be everywhere: in sugarless gum, toothpaste, pharmaceuticals, vitamins, candy, baked goods, mints, and even puddings.  While harmless to humans, it can be lethal to dogs.  Once ingested, there is a window of just 15 to 30 minutes before it reaches the bloodstream.  As little as one-and-a-half sticks of a sugarless gum can be fatal to a small dog.  According to Eric K. Dunayer, VMD, senior toxicologist at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, the toxin causes rapid release of insulin, which in turn causes a dangerous drop in blood sugar.  The resulting hypoglycemia causes weakness, lethargy, loss of coordination, collapse, and seisures.  There is a strong link with xylitol and liver failure as well.

If you strongly suspect or know your dog has ingested xylitol, time is of the essence.  Immediately call your vet, or call the ASPCA Poison Control Center (888-426-4435).  They may advise you to induce vomiting in the dog.  Regardless, the dog’s blood-glucose levels must be monitored and stabilized.

What can you do to prevent this? Read labels.  Keep xylitol out of reach; better yet, keep it out of your house, purse, car and so on.  Help get the word out.  Many vets and their staff are not aware of this burgeoning threat.

One Response to The Dangers of Xylitol!

  1. GKK

    June 7, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Thank you for this vital article on xylitol. Alarmingly, there is xylitol even in products made especially for dogs. My vet suggested I use Virbac Animal Health C.E.T. AquaDent “drinking water additive”.

    Ingredient list: Purified Water, Glycerine, Xylitol, Polysorbate 20, Potassium sorbate, (etc.). Xylitol is listed as the third ingredient.

    I went online to the ASPCA link to warning about xylitol (even in small doses), dated August 21, 2006:

    Here is a snippet from that release:

    “We seem to be learning new information with each subsequent case we manage,” says Dr. Dunayer. “Our concern used to be mainly with products that contain xylitol as one of the first ingredients. However, we have begun to see problems developing from ingestions of products with lesser amounts of this sweetener.”

    I then called the ASPCA poison control center and the veterinarian who picked up the line told me that Xylitol is considered a poison to dogs. But when I told her the ingredients to the CET AquaDent, she immediately back-tracked and said the C.E.T has “small amounts.” I read to her the above wording from their own posted article, and her exact response was: “If you think about it, we all consume a little bit of poison each day. Apples have cyanide.”

    I personally choose NOT to feed my dog “a little bit of poison each day.” So I returned the C.E.T. AquaDent to my vet’s office for a refund. They also said, “But it’s a small amount.” I won’t buy that product again. I am shocked they make it for dogs, and then its ingestion is defended by vets. Thank you for getting the word out and telling people to read labels!