Xylitol: What It Is & What You Should Know

Being responsible caregivers to our beloved pets, our utmost desire is to ensure their well-being and happiness. Nevertheless, there are occasions when, inadvertently, we may subject them to substances that can be detrimental or even fatal. In recent times, Xylitol, a sugar substitute frequently present in sugar-free gum, sweets, and various products, has emerged as a worrisome issue for pet enthusiasts. In the following blog, we will discuss the nature of Xylitol, its impact on pets, and offer guidance on averting inadvertent exposure.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol commonly used as a sugar substitute because of its sweetness and low glycemic index. It is found in various products such as sugar-free gum, candy, baked goods, and even peanut butter. While it is safe for humans to consume, it can be highly toxic to pets, especially dogs. In dogs, xylitol consumption can rapidly increase insulin levels, leading to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Symptoms of Xylitol poisoning can include vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures, and liver failure.

How does it affect pets?

When dogs consume Xylitol, their pancreas responds by releasing a significant quantity of insulin, believing there is an elevation in blood sugar levels. This surge in insulin can result in a rapid decrease in blood sugar, potentially causing hypoglycemia. Furthermore, Xylitol has the potential to induce liver failure, which can be a life-threatening condition. Signs of Xylitol toxicity may manifest within 15-30 minutes after ingestion and can swiftly advance to seizures or, in severe cases, fatality. Unlike dogs, cats typically do not experience Xylitol poisoning as they lack an inclination for sweet flavors.

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.