Xylitol sweetener poison to dogs
XYLITOL is a sweetener used in baked goods, toothpaste, sugarless gum, and a host of other products. Many people use it in the home as a sugar substitute, but if there are dogs in the home it may be better to simply learn to cook with less sugar, or none, rather than potentially put your dog at risk.
The severity of the problem depends on the amount of xylitol consumed in proportion to the dog's body weight. but little is known about the chemical's effect on cats. Signs can occur as early as 30 minutes after ingestion if large amounts were consumed, to a half a day later when only small amounts were eaten.
The dog will appear ill at ease. It may vomit and become weak, unresponsive or wobbly. It may develop seizures that progress to coma and death. These signs are due to a sudden drop in the pet's blood sugar level. People are not at risk from eating xylitol. This is because our bodies are not fooled into thinking that the xylitol is table sugar and we absorb only a small portion of the xylitol we consume. Unfortunately, dogs absorb most of it and, mistaking it for sugar, halt the production of blood sugar. The sudden increase in blood insulin and resultant drop in blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) is the cause of the signs we see.
Some popular products containing xylitol sold in the United States are Hershey's Ice Cube Gum, Carefree Koolerz, Trident gum and and Orbit sugar-free gum, oral rinse and teething gel. But many more products contain varying amounts of this ingredient - including some brands of cookies, breads, other baked goods, toothpaste and sweets. Baked goods seem to be the greatest threat to dogs because they are large and, when sweetened with xylitol, they may contain large enogh amounts of xylitol to be toxic. But even a few chewing gum pieces in small dogs can cause probems. In Europe, most brands of chewing gum contain this sugar substitute.
Veterinarians can effectively manage low blood sugar. However, a significant number of dogs poisoned by xylitol develop sudden liver failure and blood clotting problems. Some of these dogs have been saved by supportive care and blood plasma transfusions, but many have not survived.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener usually obtained from birch trees, but also found in many fruits and vegetables. The human body produces xylitol during normal body metabolism. Most sugars have six carbons. However, xylitol has five carbons which contributes to its unique human health properties. It has been found that as little as one gram for a 10kg dog can cause dangerously low blood sugar levels. This can look the same as a diabetic coma. The substance also goes on to cause liver failure.
To be sure that your dog never has the chance to poisoned in this way, never give gum, sweets and sweetened bakery products to dogs. Better still, also avoid having human products that contain xylitol in your house, as that way, accidental ingestion and poisoning is made very unlikely.
This is the latest in a line of substances - chocolate (especially dark chocolate), grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts and more, that have proved toxic to dogs yet fine for we humans to eat. Should your dog eat xylotol, please contact your vet urgently.
Note: Xylitol is used in very small amounts in some pet dental hygiene products, where the amounts are safe as they are so small.