Toxicity of Xylitol in Dogs

Many people choose to use the natural sweetener xylitol instead of refined sugar. Foods, plums, maize, wheat, mushrooms, lettuce, trees, and a plethora of other fruits all naturally contain this sugar alcohol.

Most xylitol used in the industry comes from plants including corn husks, birch, and hardwood trees. Because of its low glycemic index and anti-plaque characteristics, it has been used as a sugar replacement for decades, but its popularity has skyrocketed in recent years.


Xylitol comes in a white powder form. It is a nutritional supplement, drug, or oral care product in several nations. There has been a dramatic expansion in both the availability and variety of xylitol-containing products in recent years. Sugar-free gum, candies, peppermints, baked goods, pudding snacks, cough syrups, chewable vitamins or resins, nutritional supplements for children, mouthwash, and toothpaste are all examples of such items. Crushing tablets (sleeping pills, pain relievers, antipsychotics, etc.) or liquids are common forms of administration for many prescription pharmaceuticals, including xylitol-containing ones.


In terms of sweetness, xylitol is quite close to sucrose, but it has only around two-thirds of the calories. As a measure of how much high-carbohydrate meals boost blood sugar levels in comparison to glucose, the glycemic index ranks them. Xylitol’s low glycemic index makes it a good choice for diabetics and others trying to cut down on carbohydrates.

Xylitol has been shown to improve dental health by decreasing plaque, blocking cavities, and increasing saliva production.

To what extent is Xylitol safe?

Although Xylitol is safe for human consumption, it does have a moderate laxative effect when swallowed in large amounts or when eaten for the first time. This is typical with sugar alcohols. This is because, when the digestive system adjusts, xylitol absorption may decrease.

All forms of xylitol are very poisonous to dogs. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure, and even death may result from even trace levels.

How is Xylitol dangerous to canines?

When the pancreas secretes insulin, it regulates the amount of sugar in the blood. This is true for both people and dogs. In humans, xylitol does not cause the pancreas to produce more insulin. However, xylitol is quickly absorbed into the circulation and causes a substantial release of insulin from the pancreas when consumed by non-primate animals like dogs. After ingesting xylitol, blood sugar levels decrease precipitously (hypoglycemia) because insulin is released quickly. This effect lasts for 10-60 minutes. This is potentially fatal if not handled immediately

What’s the safe limit?

It has been reported that between 50 and 100 milligrammes (mg) of xylitol per kilogramme of body weight may induce hypoglycemia in dogs (100 mg per kg). Higher doses increase the potential for liver failure. Sugar-free gum is the most frequent cause of xylitol poisoning. It may take as little as nine pieces of gum from certain brands containing relatively low levels of xylitol to produce severe hypoglycemia in a 20-pound dog, and 45 pieces to cause liver failure. Two pieces of other popular brands of chewing gum having 1g per piece may induce severe hypoglycemia, and ten pieces can cause liver failure. The need to check for xylitol poisoning is heightened by the fact that every kind of chewing gum has a slightly different form of the toxin.

How can I know whether my dog is okay after ingesting xylitol?

Consult your vet immediately if you discover your pet has consumed anything that may have included xylitol.

Unless your vet tells you to, you shouldn’t give your dog anything to eat or make it vomit. It is crucial that you treat your dog as soon as possible. Many dogs are prone to hypoglycemia, and vomiting just makes the condition worse.

Exactly how does xylitol toxicity manifest?

Symptoms of xylitol poisoning begin swiftly, within 15 to 30 minutes of intake. Some or all of the following may be symptoms of low blood sugar:

– Weakness

– Vomiting

– Instability in standing or walking

– Moodiness

– Fatigue

– Shaky

– Seizures

– Coma

– Seizures and liver failure are possible in more extreme circumstances for the dog. Signs of hypoglycemia are common in dogs with liver failure caused by xylitol toxicity.

How can vets identify xylitol poisoning?

When a dog exhibits hypoglycemic signs and you know or believe it has consumed anything containing xylitol, you make a diagnosis of xylitol poisoning. Your veterinarian won’t wait for a diagnosis to begin therapy, since poisoning manifests itself swiftly.

Is Xylitol poisoning treatable, and if so, how?

Treatment with additional sugar, intravenous fluids, and liver protection will assist, but there is no antidote for xylitol poisoning.

What can be done about xylitol overdose?

Urgent, intensive care is required to counteract the poison’s effects and forestall further complications.

Your veterinarian may induce vomiting in a dog that has just consumed xylitol but is showing no clinical symptoms in order to prevent the sugar alcohol from being absorbed into the dog’s system. In the event of clinical manifestations, therapy is guided by the manifestations themselves. Your veterinarian will check your pet’s blood sugar and potassium levels to see whether they are low enough to need treatment due to xylitol toxicity. Your dog has to be hospitalised for glucose, dextrose, IV fluids, liver protection, and other life-saving tests and treatments. Regular blood testing is necessary to check sugar levels and liver function.

How optimistic is the outlook for those who have suffered xylitol poisoning?

Dogs with simple hypoglycemia who make a speedy recovery have an excellent prognosis, as do dogs treated before clinical signs appear. The prognosis becomes bleak if complications like liver failure or bleeding issues arise. Coma is a very bad sign for the dog’s prognosis.

What can be done to avoid this issue?

Take care to keep any items containing xylitol out of your pet’s reach if you want to use them yourself. If the product contains xylitol, keep it away from your pets. Only use pet toothpaste on your pet’s teeth and never human toothpaste. It’s important to keep in mind that xylitol may be found in trace levels in certain veterinary drugs (eg medications containing gabapentin, mouthwash). Taking these as directed should prevent xylitol toxicity. However, it has the potential to be poisonous if ingested in big enough numbers.

In the event that you use a product containing xylitol, keep it locked up and out of your pet’s reach.

There is the worry that cats and other animals may react to xylitol similarly to dogs, however, this has not yet been verified.

Any poisoning needs to be treated right away because it’s less dangerous for your pet and cheaper to treat it right away. It’s critical to get a diagnosis and start therapy right away.

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