The Truth About Xylitol

Not as sweet as you may think for your canine friend.

Xylitol, a sugar substitute, has been making its way into everything from sugar-free gum and mints, to toothpaste and mouthwash.  Although sweet to the taste of their human companions, xylitol can be dog-gone deadly to your canine friend.

Xylitol was first discovered in the late 1800s, but it wasn’t until the 1940s when it gained popularity as a low calorie sugar substitute. It also helps prevent oral bacteria from producing the acids that cause tooth damage, so it has been included in sugar-free gum, toothpaste, and mouthwash.

In dogs, however, xylitol is not as harmless. Even a small amount can result in life-threatening low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Signs of hypoglycemia include weakness, collapse, and even seizures. Sudden liver failure can also occur with xylitol ingestion, which can be fatal.

It is important to make sure your dog does not have access to xylitol-containing treats like low/no sugar cookies and cakes. Recently, xylitol is being used in products like peanut butter, so it is always important to read labels before sharing that special treat with your dog.

If you think your dog has gotten into xylitol, contact your dog vet or local emergency clinic immediately.  Xylitol can cause severe toxicity in as little as 30 minutes, so it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

Written by: Briarwood Animal Hospital