Accessibility View Close toolbar

Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

Image of a container of xylitol.

There are an increasing number of cases of dogs getting sick from ingesting a common sugar substitute, xylitol. This substance causes no problems in people, but in dogs it can cause wild fluctuations in blood sugar, often leading to a severe hypoglycemia. It can also cause liver failure.

Xylitol is widely used as a sugar substitute since it is as sweet as sucrose but has only one–third of the calories. It is a naturally occurring alcohol found in some plant material. It is extracted from birch wood to make the commercial product.

The types of items where xylitol can be found is increasing. It is common in sugarless gum, mints, and candies. It can be found in some foodstuffs, such as baked goods. It is present in some toiletries, such as toothpaste, mouthwash, and other oral care products, such as Crest White Strips. It is found in some over-the-counter medicines: nasal sprays, Flintstones Children's Vitamins, Beano liquid drops, and Nicorette gum. Some tube feeding formulas contain xylitol. Even some prescription medications, specifically Mobic oral suspension, Gabapentin oral solution, and Zegrid contain xylitol.

Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning

Once a dog ingests xylitol, symptoms may occur in minutes to hours. At lower doses, hypoglycemia is common. You might notice the dog acting weak, staggering, unable to walk, or even seizing. At higher doses, it frequently causes liver failure. With this you may see a loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and jaundice.

It does not take much xylitol to make a dog sick. Even one to two pieces of sugarless gum can cause disease in a small dog. The problem is that xylitol is not always listed as an ingredient on the label, or the amount of xylitol in the product may not be detailed. Often it is listed in "Inactive Ingredients," or "Other Ingredients," but sometimes it is grouped together with other compounds as "sugar alcohols", or it is not listed at all.

Veterinarians and veterinary pharmaceutical companies are well aware of this problem, so this is not the source of problems. Dogs become sick when they chew up people's food, toiletries, or medicine containing Xylitol; the other common method of toxicity is when people pick up medications at a human pharmacy for use in their dog. This may be in commercial prescription medications (especially liquids, as they are trying to improve the flavor for people by sweetening their product), or in compounded medications. Always ask the pharmacist to look in their references to see if xylitol is an ingredient in a medicine before giving it to your dog. They undoubtedly will not know this already since it is not an active ingredient and this problem does not occur in people. Always consult your veterinarian before administering any medications to your dog.

Source:

"New Findings on the Effects of Xylitol Ingestion in Dogs". Veterinary Medicine, Dec 2006' pages 791-797.

Location

Find us on the map

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

7:30 am-6:00 pm

Tuesday:

7:30 am-7:00 pm

Wednesday:

7:30 am-6:00 pm

Thursday:

7:30 am-7:00 pm

Friday:

7:30 am-6:00 pm

Saturday:

8:00 am-2:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Dr. Diamond,

    Your compassion and kindness to our "Star" was greatly appreciated."
    Sincerely, Rose Kush
  • "Dr. Diamond,

    I know that I always tell you how wonderful you are to "Nala" and I. But just by the amount of patients you have tells me that other clients feel the same way! You never make us feel like you are rushed. You make sure that we know you care for each and every pet. I have raised many dogs and went to many vets in my lifetime. But never had such a wonderful vet as you. It is very hard to compare any vet to you, because you my friend, are in a class of your own! God bless you, Dr. Diamond. Thank you soooo much for caring about us."
    Sincerely, Michelle & "Nala"
  • "Dear Dr. Diamond and all of your wonderful pet angels,

    I was touched to receive your beautiful card and you all wrote messages! That is incredibly special.As you all are. I am so grateful for your loving expertise with caring for all our dogs, but especially Spike. He lived longer and better thanks to your care. May 28th was a shockingly sad day but I just kept focusing then and now on your kindness and gentleness."
    Rosemari and all the family
  • "Dr Diamond,

    Glen and I are so thankful to you and your wonderful staff for taking such good care of our sweet lil' Brin. Your kindness and gentle treatment of her while she was feeling poorly and trying so hard to recover means more to us than you could imagine. Thank you so much.

    Thank you, your thoughtfulness is appreciated,"
    The Cotten Family