Dr. Marc is a veterinarian guest blogger for pet insurance provider, Pets Best.
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is used to replace sugar in products. It is commonly used in sugar-free gums, mints, candy and even toothpaste. Check labels and keep any products with xylitol far away from your dogs. Xylitol is a known toxin in dogs, however it is not clear the affect it has on cats.
Why and How is Xylitol Toxic to Dogs
In humans, xylitol is absorbed very slowly and has little effect on blood sugar and insulin levels. In dogs, however, xylitol is absorbed very rapidly into the bloodstream. This rapid absorption can cause a widespread release of insulin, which is what causes hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Xylitol can also cause liver failure, which may lead to bleeding problems and death.
What Amount of Xylitol is Toxic?
Very little xylitol can be extremely toxic to dogs. In a 20 pound dog, as little as one or two pieces of gum may cause hypoglycemia (0.1g/kg).
Signs and Symptoms
Xylitol toxicity can result in a wide variety of clinical symptoms, but the most common are vomiting (which is often the first symptom), lethargy, weakness, diarrhea, collapse, low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, bleeding disorders, and death.
What to Do if You Suspect Your Dog Has Ingested Xylitol
If your dog has ingested anything that contains xylitol, it is imperative to seek veterinary attention immediately.
Treatment and Prognosis
Your vet may induce vomiting to try and remove the toxin. However, because of the rapid absorption of xylitol this needs to be done very quickly after ingestion. With many poisons, activated charcoal can bind some of the toxin, but it is ineffective with xylitol. Once xylitol has been absorbed, your pet may need extensive supportive care. Veterinarians will likely start IV fluids, possibly containing dextrose (a sugar compound) to try and maintain normal blood sugar. A decrease in blood sugar can occur for days after xylitol ingestion, and therefore hospitalization will likely last for days as well. If your dog develops liver problems or failure, then a variety of drugs will be necessary to try and protect and support liver function.
The prognosis for xylitol ingestion is good for uncomplicated decreases in blood sugar. However, the prognosis becomes poor to grave when liver failure and bleeding disorders arise.
Actual Pets Best Insurance Claims for Xylitol Poisoning (data from the previous 100 days)
Katie, a mixed breed dog
Cost for Veterinarian treatment: $787.01
Pets Best Insurance Reimbursed: $536.37
Mercedes, a pit bull
Cost for Veterinarian treatment: $755.50
Pets Best Insurance Reimbursed: $524.40
Are you financially prepared if your dog eats something toxic? Dog insurance through Pets Best Insurance helps you pay veterinarian bills by reimbursing you 70% – 100%. Check out pet insurance reviews to learn why clients love Pets Best.
Questions? We’d love to hear from you. Call Pets Best at 877-738-7237