Sweetener Xylitol Can Kill Your Dog

By Kimberly Thomson on December 23, 2008

A sweetener commonly used in human foods and candy is extremely toxic for dogs. xylitol, sweetener, dogs, toxic, death, insulin, insulin shock, foods, pet health, pet toxins, holisticMany of us who own dogs are aware of the dangers associated with our pets ingesting windshield wiper fluid, chocolate, or chewing on the Christmas Poinsettia. But many people are not aware of the severe symptoms and consequences of our pets ingesting anything sweetened with what is known as Xylitol or “Birch Sugar.”

Xylitol is widely recognized as one of the best sweeteners for human consumption. It has 40 percent fewer calories than regular sugar, 75 percent fewer carbohydrates, a very low glycemic index, and no after taste. It is commonly used in candy, gum, coffee, tea, cereal, baking and drinks, to name a few. Xylitol is a five-carbon sugar found in fibrous vegetables, fruits, corn, and various hardwood trees, such as Birch.

In humans, it has been alleged to heal and repair, does not promote or feed dangerous bacteria or fungi, and has little effect on blood sugar and insulin levels. These characteristics make it a perfect substitute for diabetics. The average person naturally produces about 15 grams of Xylitol a day during normal metabolism.

However, the Xylitol story changes drastically with regards to our pets. It can be fatal.

Xylitol, when ingested in very small quantities by your pet, can create a sudden drop in blood sugar and may induce insulin shock resulting from severe hypoglycemia. These symptoms generally begin 15 to 30 minutes after ingestion. Hypoglycemia is created when blood sugar levels drop too low. When it drops so low that the cells’ energy needs are not met, they lose the ability to function effectively. This is especially true of the nerve and muscle cells, which have high respiratory rates and need continuous supplies of oxygen and glucose. If these needs are not met, it can result in severe lack of cell function.

The symptoms of Xylitol poisoning range from weakness, ataxia (loss of coordination), lethargy, collapse, seizures, and within 24 hours, there can be severe or fatal liver damage.

If you suspect your dog has eaten this sweetener, you should rush your pet to the vet immediately. The vet will need to induce vomitting. If you are unable to reach a vet, the best and most effective way to induce vomiting is to pour 3 percent Hydrogen Peroxide down the animal’s throat. Anyone with animals should always have a bottle of peroxide or a first aid kit in the house. It is great for pouring on wounds right after an incident.

For Xylitol poisoning, the average dose is approximately one teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight. If your dog is cooperative, you can pour it straight into the side of the mouth and then keep the lips closed so he will be forced to swallow. Keeping the head up will also help the dog have no choice but to swallow. Walk the dog outside or if he is too lethargic, rock the stomach back and forth to mix it up. Within a 20-minute period, he should vomit. Watch your pet carefully as it may try to eat what has come up. Get your dog to the vet immediately with a sample of what he ate if there are any remains and a sample of the vomit.

According to Poison Control, 3 grams of Xylitol is enough to kill a 65-pound dog. To put this into perspective, little mints contain an average of 0.5 grams per mint. Therefore, all it would take for a 65-pound dog to become seriously ill or even die, would be to ingest six small mints. If he were eating gum at 0.72 grams per piece, three or four pieces could cause severe symptoms or even death.

This sweetener is widely used in many products we consume on a regular basis. Check your cupboards, purses and kids rooms to find out which products could cause this kind of reaction in your pets. You are then left with two choices: either dispose of the products or take measures to ensure they are inaccessible to your pet.


By Kimberly Thomson| December 23, 2008
Categories:  Nest

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Kimberly Thomson

Kimberly Thomson

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