What Is Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs: Ask Boomer!

Xylitol is rapidly absorbed from a dog’s intestinal tract, causing its level in the blood to spike.

The pancreas responds by secreting massive amounts of insulin which leads to severely low blood sugar.

Thank you, Carol Bryant, for sharing Boomer’s story.

What Is Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs: Ask Boomer!

Boomer’s story

Boomer is a dog who gets into things and eats items he shouldn’t. 

He is one of those dogs who dog mom Angela Kussman says is “too smart for his own good.” He opens doors and drawers by himself, pulls things off counters, and nothing lower than 5 feet is safe from Boomer.

Xylitol poisoning?

Xylitol poisoning is not something Kussman ever knew about.

As the parent to a dog who likes to McGyver his way into situations, I have learned not to leave treats within Dexter’s reach and to keep purses zipped and up high from prying Cocker eyes and paws.

Kussman can relate and she hopes her recent near-tragedy helps other dog moms and dads.

“I had a friend in town for the weekend and we went out to dinner and the symphony to celebrate me buying a new house and her accepting a new job and moving to Kansas City,”  Kussman shares. “We were gone for about 5 hours and I decided (stupidly) that I would just let Boomer stay out and be free while we were gone.”

What could he possibly do in a few hours, Kussman thought to herself. 

After all, she put everything out of his reach.

What has Boomer eaten?

When she arrived home at 10:30 that night, she saw remnants of something all over the floor. Boomer had broken into two containers of Ice Breakers Ice Cube gum she bought earlier that day and broke the plastic to get the gum out. The gum was left on the kitchen island in a bag from the store.

Boomer gets sick

Boomer had vomited and began drinking massive amounts of water. 

He kept begging Kussman for water and kicking his bowls around. Something made the worried dog mom Google “My dog ate Ice Breakers gum.” What she read shook her to the core and caused her to rush Boomer to the emergency vet.

Xylitol is one of the ingredients in Ice Breakers (and other sugar-free) products. 

At the emergency hospital

The vet explained to Kussman that even a small amount can be lethal, and having ingested 40 pieces, the prognosis was very serious. The Xylitol had time to travel to Boomer’s liver and he was in danger of liver failure.

The prognosis was downgraded to poor.

“She had him on an IV solution with glucose to try to even out his glucose levels and a liver protectant,” Kussman recalls. “ She also said they needed to do a plasma transfusion to improve his clotting time.”

He began with Vitamin K injections, a glucose solution, and a liver-protecting drug. They wanted to flush his system out and hope the liver could start healing itself. Boomer was hospitalized from Thursday through Monday and began to show improvement.

Boomer almost died

Three nights of treatment cost Kussman over $2,500 and she nearly lost her dog to Xylitol poisoning.

“Everyone knows chocolate, grapes, raisins, etc. are toxic to dogs.  Why don’t we know about Xylitol,” she wonders. “ I vaguely remember hearing the word, but never knew what it was in.

Surprisingly, it’s in quite a few things.  Gum, mints, candy, toothpaste, mouthwash, OTC drugs, chewable vitamins, and more.  Even athletic clothing!”

PetMD has an article about Xylitol toxicity, which we encourage all pet parents to read.

As for Kussman, her dog’s veterinarian shared that there has been a huge increase in Xylitol ingestion over the past year at their practice.

Preventing xylitol poisoning in your dog

What can you do to prevent Xylitol poisoning in your dog?

Read the labels carefully. Anything sugar-free should be avoided. Check if Xylitol is contained in any products you purchase. Keep them from your dog’s path, access, or counter surfing.

Companies are not warning pet parents, for the most part, that Xylitol can be fatal to dogs.

If you must purchase items containing Xylitol, hide them far from a dog’s reach. In our household, we rarely if ever, purchase Xylitol-containing items.

Boomer was able to celebrate the holidays with his family. 

He has to have his liver checked every two weeks, with the hope that it will start healing itself and return to 100 percent functionality. He is not quite 4 years old, so both Kussman and the veterinarian are hopeful.

Related articles:
Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs: What Happens In The Dog’s Body with Xylitol Poisoning

Categories: ConditionsDog toxinsReal-life StoriesXylitol poisoning

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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