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Protect Your Pooch: Understanding The Dangers Of Xylitol

by Kamie Roth March 11, 2024

Protect Your Pooch: Understanding The Dangers Of Xylitol

As responsible pet owners, we strive to always keep our furry friends safe and healthy. However, there are hidden dangers lurking in many common household items that can pose a serious threat to our beloved pets. One such danger that many may not realize is a real threat to our dogs is that of xylitol, a sugar substitute found in a variety of products, from sugar-free gum to toothpaste.

As we observe Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month, it is crucial to shed light on the dangers of xylitol for dogs and take proactive steps to keep our canine companions out of harm’s way.

Understanding Xylitol

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is commonly used as a sugar substitute in many sugar-free or low-sugar products. It is often found in chewing gum, candies, baked goods, toothpaste, and even some peanut butter brands! Xylitol can also go by the names Wood Sugar, Birch Sugar, and Birch Bark Extract.

While xylitol is safe for human consumption and is often marketed as a healthier alternative to sugar, it can be highly toxic to dogs.

The Danger To Dogs

When dogs ingest xylitol, it can cause a rapid release of insulin in their bodies, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Even small amounts of xylitol can be extremely dangerous for dogs and can result in symptoms such as vomiting, weakness, lethargy, seizures, and even liver failure. In severe cases, xylitol poisoning can be fatal if not treated promptly.

Common Sources Of Xylitol

Xylitol can be found in a wide range of products, making it essential for pet owners to be vigilant about reading ingredient labels.

Some come sources of xylitol include:

  • Sugar-free gum and mints
  • Sugar-free candies, chocolates, and ice creams
  • Sugar-free baked goods (Ex: Cookies, muffins, and cakes)
  • Toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Certain medications and dietary supplements
  • Peanut Butter (some brands contain xylitol, so always check the label!)

Preventing Xylitol Poisoning

To protect your dog from xylitol poisoning, take the following precautions:

  • Read ingredient labels carefully, especially on products labeled as “sugar-free”, “low-sugar”, or “skinny”
  • Keep all xylitol-containing products out of reach of your dog, including in purses, backpacks, and on countertops.
  • Be cautious when giving your dog peanut butter, and always choose brands that do not contain xylitol.
  • Educate family members, friends, and pet sitters about the dangers of xylitol to ensure everyone is aware and vigilant.

What To Do If Your Dog Ingests Xylitol

If you suspect that your dog has ingested xylitol, seek emergency veterinary care immediately, even if they are not showing symptoms. Time is of the essence when it comes to xylitol poisoning, and prompt treatment can significantly improve your dog’s chances of recovery.

Symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs include vomiting, followed by symptoms associated with the sudden lowering of your dog’s blood sugar, such as decreased activity, weakness, staggering, incoordination, collapse, and seizures.

As pet owners, it is our responsibility to create a safe environment for our furry companions. By understanding the dangers of xylitol and taking proactive steps to prevent exposure, we can help keep our dogs happy, healthy, and out of harm’s way!

Kamie Roth


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