Xylitol: What It Is & What You Should Know

As pet parents, we want to keep our furry companions happy and healthy. However, sometimes, we accidentally expose them to something harmful or even deadly. In recent years, Xylitol, a sugar substitute commonly found in sugar-free gum, candy, and other products, has become a growing concern for pet owners. In this blog, we will explain what Xylitol is, how it affects pets, and provide tips for preventing exposure.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol, a sugar alcohol, is frequently used as a sugar alternative due to its sweet taste and minimal impact on blood sugar levels. It is present in numerous items, including sugar-free gum, confections, pastries, and even peanut butter. Although humans can safely ingest it, it can be extremely dangerous for pets, particularly dogs. In dogs, the ingestion of xylitol can quickly elevate insulin levels, resulting in hypoglycemia or reduced blood sugar. Signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs may include nausea, impaired coordination, seizures, and liver damage.

How does it affect pets?

When dogs consume Xylitol, their pancreas reacts by releasing a significant quantity of insulin, believing there’s been a surge in blood sugar. This insulin surge can result in a rapid decline in blood sugar levels, resulting in hypoglycemia. Moreover, Xylitol can lead to liver failure, which can be lethal. Signs of Xylitol poisoning can manifest as quickly as 15-30 minutes after ingestion, and they can rapidly escalate to seizures and, in severe cases, death. Unlike dogs, cats are generally unaffected by Xylitol poisoning because they lack an affinity for sugary substances.

Preventing exposure:

Pet owners can prevent potentially lethal Xylitol exposure by carefully reading ingredient labels and avoiding products that contain Xylitol. As Xylitol can be found in various products, it is essential to check labels diligently. Additionally, pet owners should be aware of the symptoms of Xylitol poisoning and contact their veterinarian immediately if they think their pet has ingested a product containing Xylitol. Prompt treatment is essential for the best possible outcome in the event of a suspected poisoning.

In conclusion, Xylitol can be dangerous for pets, particularly dogs. As pet owners, we are responsible for protecting our furry companions from harmful substances. By knowing what Xylitol is, how it affects pets, and taking preventative measures like reading labels and being aware of symptoms, we can ensure our pets stay healthy and live long, happy lives. Contact us if you believe your pet has consumed Xylitol, and take them to the nearest animal hospital.