If your dog ingests xylitol it is an emergency.
It takes substantially less xylitol than chocolate to be deadly. There is enough xylitol in just three pieces of sugar-free gum to kill a small dog.
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a sugar replacement, a sweetener, used more broadly every day because of low caloric density and lesser impact on tooth health. It is still a type of carbohydrate, sugar alcohol.
It is considered safe for people unless somebody finds otherwise. However, it is highly toxic to dogs. Why?
Because the body still looks at xylitol as sugar, it is treated as such when it makes its way into the bloodstream. Which means that insulin is dispatched.
In people, xylitol is absorbed slowly, and no harm is done. I dogs, however, it absorbs rapidly, and the response is a massive amount of insulin. This very quickly results in potentially life-threatening hypoglycemia.
What Happens in the Dog’s Body with Xylitol Poisoning article explains this in detail.
What is hypoglycemia?
Glucose is a form of sugar that circulates in the bloodstream. Glucose is a source of fuel for cells in the body. Hypoglycemia is an insufficient amount of this fuel. If your car runs out of fuel, the engine dies, but you can refuel and be on your merry way. It doesn’t work the same way with a living body, particularly the brain which has an extremely high energy requirement.
How deadly is xylitol?
Just a tiny amount of xylitol can kill a dog.
Just three little pieces of sugar-free gum with xylitol are enough to kill a small dog! While xylitol is a food substance for us, it is poison to dogs. That’s right, a poison. It is way more dangerous than chocolate, and it is less known.
To make things worse, xylitol is being used in more and more products all the time. In the past, all you had to worry about was sugar-free gum. But these days xylitol can be found even in some brands of peanut butter, medications, including some brands of fish oil and other products you’re not likely to think of. Here you can find a list of products containing xylitol.
Complications of xylitol poisoning
Xylitol can cause liver failure and bleeding disorders too.
For a dog, xylitol is extremely toxic, and its ingestion is an emergency.
The first sign is usually vomiting, following by hypoglycemia as soon as within 30 minutes. A dog poisoned by xylitol often deteriorates quickly, developing lethargy, unsteadiness, seizures, and collapse. Aggressive supportive care needs to be given as soon as possible.
Xylitol ingestion is an emergency, folks.
If your dog ingests xylitol, run, don’t walk, to a veterinarian.
This is one of the things where an ounce of prevention is worth a megaton of cure. Educate yourself about what products might be hiding this poison and keep them away from your dog.