Poisoning, Symptoms, & Common Foods with Xylitol
DISCLAIMER: If you believe your dog has ingested something with xylitol, call your vet or a pet poison control hotline immediately.
While many people know that grapes and chocolate are dangerous for dogs, did you know xylitol is poisonous for dogs too?! The artificial sweetener xylitol can cause major health problems, including death if ingested by a dog.
So, in this article, we’re gonna dive into all things xylitol and dogs so you can keep your special boy or girl safe!
WHAT IS XYLITOL?
Xylitol is a low-calorie sugar alcohol that is used to sweeten items like gum, peanut butter, and baked goods (more bellow). It is mostly derived from corn cob and birch bark.
The sweetener xylitol can also be labeled as: wood sugar, birch sugar, birch bark extract, or just sugar alcohol. And while not all sugar alcohols are toxic for dogs, it’s usually best to play it safe and avoid giving your dog items that have ‘sugar alcohols’ as an ingredient.
WHY IS XYLITOL POISONOUS & TOXIC FOR DOGS?
While xylitol is praised for its oral benefits and low-calorie sweetness for humans, it is extremely dangerous for dogs.
In dogs, the complications that can arise from xylitol ingestion are as follows but not limited to.
- A sharp increase in insulin - that can lead to hypoglycemia (too low blood sugar). If left untreated hypoglycemia can become fatal to a dog.
- Hepatic Failure - liver failure
- Hypokalemia - low potassium levels
- Hypophosphatemia - low phosphorus levels
SYMPTOMS OF XYLITOL POISONING IN DOGS?
Effects of xylitol poisoning can set in as quickly as 10-60 minutes after a dog ingests xylitol. This will depend on a variety of factors including the type of product ingested.
Here are some symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs:
- Decreased movement
REMEMBER! - If you think your dog ingested an item with xylitol you should immediately contact your vet.
IS THERE A REMEDY OR TREATMENT FOR XYLITOL POISONING?
There is no “cure” or “antivenom” type solution for xylitol poisoning.
Often a vet will try to induce vomiting, but be aware that you should NOT try this on your own. In some cases, vomiting can actually make the problem worse.
Treatment usually involves intravenous glucose, hepatic support, plasma infusions, and general monitoring and care. And again, your vet will know the best path forward so contact them if your dog ingests any product with xylitol sweetener.
COMMON FOODS WITH XYLITOL
Here are common foods that can contain xylitol and shouldn’t be given to dogs:
- Sugar-free gum, Ice Breakers have been said to contain more xylitol than others.
- Peanut butter
- Nut butter
- Chewable multivitamins
- Nasal sprays
- Personal lubricants (yes, some brands like Astroglide, etc. use xylitol)
- Sugar-free mints
- Sugar-free candy
While this isn’t a comprehensive list, it can help you know what foods might contain xylitol.
Keep an eye out for products and packaging that mention things like:
- Vegan-friendly, etc.
This type of labeling can often be a sign that the product is sweetened with a sugar alternative like xylitol.
As pup parents, it’s on us to understand which foods might contain xylitol. Because unfortunately, our dogs can’t read ingredient labels.😆
LIST OF CHEWING GUM BRANDS WITH XYLITOL
Note: This is NOT a comprehensive list, you should ALWAYS check the label. If you are aware of other gum brands that use xylitol please let us know in a comment so we can add it to this list.
Common Chewing-Gum Brands:
Unfortunately, some of the most common xylitol and dog accidents happen with chewing gum. So Keep a look out for loose pieces and packets in easy to reach spaces.
LIST OF PEANUT BUTTER BRANDS WITH XYLITOL
Note: This is NOT a comprehensive list, you should ALWAYS check the label. If you are aware of other peanut butter or nut butter that use xylitol please let us know in a comment so we can add it to this list.
Common Peanut Butter Brands:
While not many brands of peanut butter use xylitol as an ingredient, it’s important to check the label before filling any Kong or chew toy with peanut butter.
WAYS TO KEEP YOUR DOG SAFE FROM XYLITOL
When it comes to keeping your puppy safe from xylitol, there are essentially three routes. Truthfully, a combination of all three is generally the most realistic!
- Don’t keep products with xylitol in your home
- Safely store xylitol products
- Practice behaviors like leave it and general impulse control
HOW TO SAFELY STORE XYLITOL PRODUCTS?
If you do want or need to have xylitol products in your home or car, it’s important to take extra care to ensure they never can be accessed by your pup.
This will look different for each home and dog, but generally speaking here are some ideas.
- Put items in very high areas, like on top of a fridge or cabinets
- Put items behind a door such as a cabinet, drawer, or closet door
- If your dog is extra mischievous, consider adding baby-safe locks to the cabinets or drawers with dangerous items.
- When you leave your dog home alone, use a crate or completely block off the area that may contain dangerous items.
PRACTICE BEHAVIORS LIKE LEAVE IT & GENERAL IMPULSE CONTROL!
While training and impulse control shouldn’t be your first line of defense against dangerous items, it’s vital nonetheless.
Teaching the “leave it” behavior can truly be life-saving for your pup. With enough practice, your dog’s instinct to leave items alone that fall or are on the ground can become almost automatic.
Another valuable behavior to practice throughout your dog’s entire life is impulse control. Impulse control is all about rewiring your dog’s brain to not immediately act on their natural impulses.
- So instead of bursting through doors, they wait to be released.
- Instead of crowding you while you prepare their meal, they wait in their place.
- Instead of jumping on guests, they sit politely to be greeted.
- Instead of snatching food (or dangerous items like gum) off the table, they leave it alone.
*We cannot stress enough the importance of teaching your puppy impulse control!*