As we head toward Halloween and the upcoming holidays, yummy treats are sure to come into your home.  There are many treats that are good for your dog but there are some that can actually harm your best buddy.  Xylitol is a super popular sweetener found in many gums, candies and baked goods that is extremely dangerous for your dog. 

What is Xylitol? 

Xylitol is found naturally in berries, plums and other fruits as well as in oats, lettuce, mushrooms.  This sugar substitute contains about 2/3 the calories, is lower on the glycemic index and tastes very similar to sucrose.  This makes it super attractive to those on a low carb diet or anyone keeping an eye on their sugar intake. 

Because of its rising popularity, this sweetener is now found in so many foods including gum, candy, mints, and even vitamins, mouthwash and toothpaste.  Recently it’s been added to cough syrups, allergy medications, sleep aids and so many other over the counter and prescription medications. 

Unfortunately, most people are not aware of the prevalence of xylitol in so many foods and medications, nor are they aware that this sweetener is highly toxic to canines. Even small amounts of this sugar substitute can cause hypoglycemia, seizures, liver failure  and even death. 

Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning

In humans, xylitol does not stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas.  But in dogs, it’s quickly absorbed into the bloodstream which results in a rapid release of insulin.  This results in a very fast decreases in blood sugar or hypoglycemia. This occurs 10 to 60 minute after eating xylitol.  Untreated hypoglycemia can be life threatening to your dog.

Liver failure is another potential effect of xylitol ingestion in your canine family member.  

An example of how much xylitol is toxic to a dog would be about 50 mg of xylitol per pound of body weight.  And the most common culprit in canine poisoning, according the the Pet Poison Hotline, is sugar free gum.  Some gum has a high enough xylitol content that 2 pieces could result in severe hypoglycemia and 10 pieces could cause liver failure.  

Symptoms of xylitol poisoning includes vomiting, weakness, depression/lethargy, seizures, coma. These symptoms develop rapidly, usually within 30 mins of consumption.

If you suspect your pet has eaten xylitol, call your vet or the Pet Poison Hotline (800-213-6680) immediately.  Do not induce vomiting unless specifically instructed to do so.  

So, as we head into the wonderful and crazy holiday season, be conscious of the tempting food items that can be harmful or even deadly to your canine friends.  

Great resource to add to the contacts in your phone:  Pet Poison Hotline 800-213-6680