What every dog owner should know about Xylitol
What is Xylitol and where it is found?
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is found in fruits and vegetables naturally. Xylitol has asweet taste and it is used as a sugar substitute in chewing gyms, breath mints, candies,ice cream, even tooth paste and mouthwash. Xylitol has a low glycemic index so it is often used as a substitute for baking cookies, cakes and breads.
Toxic dose of Xylitol
The toxic dose of Xylitol depends on the amount your dog consumes. The dose necessary to cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in dogs is approximately 0.1 grams/kg of body weight. For example, if your pet weighs 10 lbs. (4.5kg), the toxic dose that will cause hypoglycemia is 0.45 gram. This is a very small amount: 1 gram = ¼ teaspoon or a regular sized paper clip. Most chewing gums and breath mints typically contain 0.22 to 1.0 gram of Xylitol per piece of gum or per mint. That means ingesting 1 piece of gum can result in hypoglycemia. At a higher dose 0.5 grams/kg, Xylitol can cause severe liver disease.
What to expect when your dog ingests Xylitol
Symptoms of Xylitol ingestion can be vomiting, weakness, lethargy, ataxia (walking unsteady), collapse, or seizures. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is typically seen within30 minutes to two hours of xylitol ingestion but in rare cases the symptoms can be delayed as long as 12 hours. Hypoglycemia is dangerous and can be severe enough to be life threatening. If you know that your dog ingested a Xylitol containing product, contact your veterinarian immediately. Even if you are not certain that your pet ingested Xylitol, but if there is a chance, don’t wait and contact your veterinarian. Early diagnosis and treatment can save your pet’s life.
How is Xylitol ingestion treated?
Your veterinarian will induce vomiting to remove as much of the Xylitol out of your pet’s stomach. If hypoglycemia develops, your pet will be hospitalized with IV fluids containing dextrose until your pet’s body can self-regulate the blood glucose level. This may take up to 2 days. If your pet ingested a higher dose and it caused liver injury, liver enzymes will be closely monitored and supportive care with liver protectants will be provided.
Prognosis is excellent with early diagnosis and treatment for hypoglycemia. However, if there is liver injury with higher dose of Xylitol ingestion, prognosis is guarded. If you have dogs, identify all Xylitol containing products, medications, candies, or gums in your home. Make sure everyone in your home is aware of the danger of Xylitol to your pet, and keep these items in a secure place away from your dog’s reach.