Xylitol poisoning in dogs

Do you use peanut butter to disguise pills for your dog, or have sugar free gum lying around?  Well, beware! Xylitol, a common sugar substitute, is potentially lethal to dogs!

Xylitol can be found in many sugar-free foods such as gum, nut butter, protein bars, jellies and also in oral hygiene products like toothpaste and mouthwash.


Two deadly effects of Xylitol are:

1. Hypoglycaemia

The plummeting blood sugar levels lead to symptoms that can begin with vomiting and progress to incoordination, collapse and seizures.

These symptoms can begin within 30 minutes of ingestion and can last for 12 hours or more. As xylitol can be absorbed slowly symptoms may not begin until 12 hours after it was eaten and last up to 24 hours.

The dose of xylitol that can cause this hypoglycaemia is as low as 0.075-0.1gram/kg.

Chewing gum can have variable amounts of xylitol depending on the flavor. A small dog can easily be poisoned by a single stick of gum.


2. Destruction of liver tissue

How this destruction happens remains unknown but the dose of xylitol required to cause this is much higher than the dose causing low blood sugar.

Signs take longer to show up (typically 8-12 hours but can be 12-72 hours) and surprisingly not all dogs who have liver destruction will have had hypoglycaemia first.

A lucky dog will have only temporary illness but complete liver failure can result leading to internal haemorrhage and death.


Xylitol containing mouthwashes for pets are safe providing the correct dose is used for the smallest dog in the house, the dog is not drinking excessively due to medication or disease, and does not drink the undiluted product.

So, keep your sugar free products out of the reach of your dogs if they contain xylitol!


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