Xylitol: Just as Dangerous in Dogs as Chocolate, Yet Less Known
Xylitol is used in a variety of food and non-food products including sugar-free gum, candy, peanut and nut butters, baked goods, baking mix, jelly, condiments, syrup, flavored drinks, drink powders, and protein bars and powders, and toothpaste.
Xylitol is in everything from chewing gum to peanut butter to toothpaste to mouthwash to pudding.
The xylitol content of food products varies considerably between different brands. In the case of gum, content can vary between different flavors of the same brand. One brand of sugar-free gum has 9 mg of xylitol per piece for all flavors except one, which has 700 mg per piece. Determining the amount of xylitol in a manufactured product (e.g. gum, candy) can be challenging because many manufacturers are unwilling to provide this information on a package label.
Manufacturers are not required to place the amount of xylitol on a product label.
In dogs, even small doses of xylitol can cause exaggerated insulin release resulting in dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). It can also cause liver damage. Xylitol has not been evaluated in cats, but it is believed that it is not as dangerous in cats as it is in dogs. There is much individual variation in clinical response to xylitol, so in general, we recommend treating all dogs that have a potential xylitol ingestion.
No clinical test is available to detect xylitol. Diagnosis is based on a history of exposure, clinical signs, and lab work. Clinical signs of hypoglycemia generally occur within 30-60 minutes of ingestion and include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of balance, restlessness, collapse, seizures, and coma. Signs of liver injury (e.g. jaundice, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain) may occur 12-72 hours after exposure.
What You Need to Know
1) Products that may contain Xylitol
- Chewing gum, candy
- Peanut butter
- Chewing gum, candy, mints
- Jellies and jams
- Baked goods
- Puddings and Jel-lo®
- Lip balm
- Pancake syrup
- Ketchup and condiments
- Drink powders
- …and the list goes on and on
2) Some signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs
- Loss of appetite
- Seizures or tremors.
- Blood in stool, nose bleeds, and other signs of clotting disorders