The FDA has once again warned pet owners about the dangers of xylitol, a type of sugar alcohol that is common in many sugar-free foods. Although the substance is safe for humans, it can be poisonous for dogs.
According to the FDA, the most common type of Dog xylitol poisonings occurred when dogs ate sugar-free gum. A dog eating only half a gram of xylitol can suffer illness.
When dogs eat xylitol, it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and causes a rapid release of insulin, the hormone that helps sugar enter cells. This insulin spike may cause dogs’ blood sugar levels to plummet to life-threatening levels, a condition known as hypoglycemia.
Signs of Xylitol poisoning in dogs
Symptoms of xylitol poisoning develop usually within 15-30 minutes of consumption. Signs of consumption include any or all of the following:
- Lack of coordination or difficulty walking or standing
- Depression or lethargy
In severe cases, the dog may develop seizures or liver failure. Dogs that develop liver failure from xylitol poisoning often show signs of hypoglycemia.
Products with Xylitol
Gum isn’t the only product containing xylitol. Other products that may contain xylitol include:
- Sugar-free desserts
- Rx suspensions/melts (i.e. Neurontin®, Abilify®, Allegra®, Mobic®, RioMet®, clonazepam, Emtrivia®)
- OTC liquid medications
- OTC digestive aids (Beano®, antacids)
- Dental/oral care products
- Nasal sprays
- Breath mints
- Nicotine gum
- Chewable dietary supplements
- Stool softeners
- Barium liquid and pudding
- Ice cream
- Jell-O® sugar free pudding
- Energy drinks
- Peanut butter and other nut butters
What Can You Do to Avoid Xylitol Poisoning in Your Dog?
- Check every label
- Keep products that contain xylitol (including those you don’t think of as food, such as toothpaste) well out of your dog’s reach.
- Only use pet toothpaste for pets, never human toothpaste.
- If you give your dog peanut butter as a treat or as a vehicle for pills, check the label first to make sure it doesn’t contain xylitol.
If you think your pet has eaten xylitol, it’s important to contact your veterinarian or call a pet poison helpline immediately. The ASPCA Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) and the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) are available 24/7, year round (consultation fees may apply). Accurate and timely identification of what they ate is very important. Having the container, package, or label in hand will save valuable time and may save the life of your pet.