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Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

August 1, 2018
Have you ever heard of xylitol? It’s one of the most common––and dangerous––dog poisons to be found anywhere, and it’s probably already in your home! In this article from your Pickerington, OH veterinarian, learn about the signs of and treatment for xylitol poisoning in dogs, as well as how to prevent the issue entirely.

What is Xylitol, Exactly?

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener often used in candies, gums, toothpaste, certain baked goods, and other sweet items. It’s fine for human consumption, but it’s very toxic to animals! Dogs are the most commonly affected pet, likely because of their tendency to gobble up whatever morsel they can get their paws on.

What are the Symptoms of Poisoning?

Xylitol is a particularly dangerous toxin because of its ability to “confuse” your dog’s pancreas; your dog’s system thinks that it’s taking in real sugar when it’s not. This causes your dog’s body to release insulin when it shouldn’t, leading to a sudden a dramatic drop in blood-sugar levels. Resulting symptoms may include drooling, weakness, uncoordinated movements, vomiting, diarrhea, and––if treatment isn’t administered promptly––seizures, collapse, coma, and even death. Symptoms of xylitol poisoning can appear in as little as 30 minutes after initial ingestion. For this reason, it’s always best to rush your pet to the nearest veterinary emergency room if you know or suspect they’ve eaten a substance that contains xylitol.

What’s the Treatment?

Your dog’s stomach may need to be flushed to rid the system of the remaining toxin, or activated charcoal may be administered to slow the poison’s absorption. Your pet will need close monitoring as they recover, and supportive measures like fluid and electrolyte replacement, oxygen supplementation, and more might be necessary.

How Can I Prevent Poisoning?

It goes without saying that you’ll want to prevent an episode of xylitol poisoning in the first place, rather than deal with it after it’s already happened. This is as easy as tightly restricting your dog’s access to any and all sweet treats. Don’t leave chocolates, candies, gum, or other sweet foods out on the kitchen countertops or table; instead, store them in closed containers or cabinets where your dog won’t be able to reach. Want to know more about xylitol and the dangers it presents? Does your dog need veterinary care? We’re here to help with all of your pet-care needs. Set up an appointment today with your Pickerington, OH veterinary clinic.