xylitol toxicity: the facts.
From personal experience, I need you to know about xylitol. Your dog needs you to know about xylitol. I don't want any other human or dog to go through what Roxy and I did. The following article is a bit boring and fact based...but it is SO important. As pet owners we need to be aware of all the places in our homes Xyitol can be hiding. We need to tell our friends.
*If you stumbled across this page because you think your dog has ingested Xylitol, don't hesitate. If it has been less than 2 hours since ingestion, call ASPCA animal poison control center who will likely recommend inducing vomitting with peroxide. If it has been more than 2 hours call your local emergency vet immediately.
Xylitol is 100 times more toxic to your dog than chocolate. If you weren't aware of the dangers of xylitol reading Roxy's story, you aren't alone. I learned in the hardest way. You would be hard pressed to find some one who doesn't know about the dangers of chocolate to our best friends., but more than half of all dog owners have never even heard of xylitol. With xylitol gaining more popularity as the chosen sugar substitute in many common products, it is easily becoming one of the biggest hidden threats to dogs. More than likely, there is something in your pantry, medicine cabinet, bathroom countertop, or even your purse that contains xylitol right this moment. That's terrifying. I would know.
what is xylitol? where is it found?
Xylitol is a "sugar alcohol", a natural substitute that is commonly found in “sugar-free” gum, mints, toothpastes, and mouthwashes. Since it’s also considered a good sugar substitute for diabetics, xylitol is commonly used in sugar-free baked goods too, such as cookies and muffins. Xylitol is also present in some brands of children’s chewable vitamins and other supplements. And it's now even being added to certain brands of peanut butter.
is xylitol toxicity a common occurrence.
Sadly, yes. As of 2014 the ASPCA animal poison control center logged an average of 10 calls per day of animals being poisoned by Xylitol. 10 dogs a day. But even that number is an underestimate, as it represents only the number of cases that are called into the ASPCA-APCC. This number doesn’t include the calls that Pet Poison Helpline and any other poison control hotlines receive, and they also don’t take into account all of the xylitol toxicity cases that never get phoned into poison control at all. Many cases are handled at the local animal ER hospital or General Practice clinic without such calls ever being made, and some dogs sadly don’t even make it to the vet.
why so dangerous?
Because xylitol is such a strong stimulator of insulin release in dogs it take only .1g/kg to cause hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia, such as that which often happens with xylitol ingestion, can lead to seizures, coma, and even death. Xylitol can cause a dangerous drop in your dog's blood sugar in as little as 30 minutes.
Even worse, if a dog eats just 0.5g/kg of xylitol (still a very small amount) they are at risk of suffering from "acute hepatic necrosis" literally translated to "sudden liver death" a frequently fatal form of liver failure. The typical sugar packet that you might put in your morning coffee weighs 1 gram — more than TWICE the weight of xylitol (0.45 grams) it would take to cause hypoglycemia in a 10lb dog.
what do I do if my dog has ingested xylitol?
In the event your dog develops hypoglycemia from xylitol ingestion, they will need to be admitted to the hospital for intensive monitoring, and they'll need to be put on an IV dextrose (a source of glucose for your dog's body) drip to support and stabilize their blood sugar levels. The duration of their hospital stay will vary with the severity of their clinical signs and their response to treatment, but you should expect at least a full day of hospitalization (often 24-48 hours is more likely). With early and aggressive treatment, the prognosis for xylitol-induced hypoglycemia is typically good, but you should be prepared to pay a couple thousand dollars for treatment costs and the intensive monitoring that is typically necessary.
If your dog is unfortunate enough to develop liver failure from xylitol ingestion, their prognosis will likely not be good. These pets require very aggressive care because of the range of vital functions the liver has (blood clotting, blood detoxification, blood pressure, and many others). These dogs will often spend at least 72 hours in the hospital and treatment costs will likely be well into the thousands of dollars. Many of these unfortunate dogs die from their liver failure or are euthanized when the costs skyrocket and the prognosis worsens.
how can I prevent xylitol poisoning?
Check the labels of products you are purchasing, particularly gums, toothpastes, vitamins, sweetener packets, toothpastes, and nut butters. Products containing xylitol are typically advertised with buzzwords such as: Sugar-Free, No Sugar Added, No Artificial sweeteners, Naturally Sweetened, 100% Natural, Aspartame Free, Safe for Diabetics, Birch Sugar, Low carb, Low cal, Cavity Fighting, Ant-Cavity, etc. Buy pet specific toothpastes if you brush your dogs teeth. Tell your friends about xylitol. Share Roxy's story so that pet owners know, xylitol is not something that can shrugged off.
From personal experience....never leave a pack of gum in a tote bag that a curious dog could eat.
If you would like to help us and our awareness cause personally, please consider purchasing a #fortheloveofROXY t-shirt from the online store here on our page. By wearing one, you are educating others about the dangers of Xylitol, potentially saving the life of their best friend. Proceeds will initially be helping us with the rest of Roxy's medical bills. Profit's beyond that will go into Roxy's fund to continue to be used to provide Xylitol awareness to pet owners everywhere. (I make all of these shirts myself, so please be kind and wait patiently...I promise it will be worth the wait to know wearing this shirt could save a life.)