Thursday, July 13, 2017

Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Xylitol Ingestion an Emergency?

86.49% survey participants check ingestion of xylitol as being an emergency.

This says to me that some people might not know what xylitol is and why is it dangerous to dogs. At least I hope that's why they checked no.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a sugar replacement, a sweetener, used more broadly every day because of low caloric density and lesser impact on tooth health. It is still a type of carbohydrate, sugar alcohol.

It is considered safe for people unless somebody finds otherwise. However, it is highly toxic to dogs. Why?

Because the body still looks at xylitol as sugar, it is treated as such when it makes its way into the blood stream. Which means that insulin is dispatched. In people, xylitol is absorbed slowly, and no harm is done. I dogs, however, it absorbs rapidly, and the response is a massive amount of insulin. This very quickly results in potentially life-threatening hypoglycemia.

What Happens in the Dog's Body with Xylitol Poisoning article explains this in detail.

What is hypoglycemia?

Glucose is a form of sugar that circulates in the bloodstream. Glucose is a source of fuel for cells in the body. Hypoglycemia is an insufficient amount of this fuel. If your car runs out of fuel, the engine dies, but you can refuel and be on your merry way. It doesn't work the same way with a living body, particularly the brain which has an extremely high energy requirement.

Just a tiny amount of xylitol can kill a dog.

Just three little pieces of sugar-free gum with xylitol are enough to kill a small dog! While xylitol is a food substance for us, it is poison to dogs. That's right, a poison. It is way more dangerous than chocolate, and it is less known.

To make things worse, xylitol is being used in more and more products all the time. In the past, all you had to worry about was sugar-free gum. But these days xylitol can be found even in some brands of peanut butter, medications, including some brands of fish oil and other products you're not likely to think of. Here you can find a list of products containing xylitol.

Xylitol can cause liver failure and bleeding disorders too.

For a dog, xylitol is extremely toxic, and its ingestion is an emergency.

The first sign is usually vomiting, following by hypoglycemia as soon as within 30 minutes. A dog poisoned by xylitol often deteriorates quickly, developing lethargy, unsteadiness, seizures, and collapse. Aggressive supportive care needs to be given as soon as possible.

Xylitol ingestion is an emergency, folks.

If your dog ingests xylitol, run, don't walk, to a veterinarian.

This is one of the things where an ounce of prevention is worth a megaton of cure. Educate yourself about what products might be hiding this poison and keep them away from your dog.

Further reading:
What Happens in the Dog's Body with Xylitol Poisoning
Xylitol Intoxication in Dogs – A Not-So-Sweet Problem
Keep Chewing Gum Away from Your Dog!
Xylitol and the Basset Hound
What is Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs? Ask Boomer.
Can Peanut Butter Kill Your Dog?
Xylitol, Where It Can Be Hiding

Related articles:
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey Results
Is Unproductive Retching an Emergency?
Is Difficulty Breathing an Emergency?
Is Panting an Emergency?
Is Severe Pain an Emergency?
Is Limping an Emergency?
Is Vomiting Bile in the Morning an Emergency?
Is Profuse Vomiting an Emergency?
Are Convulsions or Seizures an Emergency?
Is Loss of Appetite an Emergency?
Is Reduced Activity an Emergency?
Is Severe Lethargy an Emergency?
Is Inability to Stand an Emergency?
Is Inability to Urinate an Emergency?
Are Cuts and Abrasions an Emergency?
Is Bleeding an Emergency?
Is Blood in Vomit an Emergency?
Is Fresh Blood in Stool an Emergency?
Is Black, Tarry Stool an Emergency?
Are Pale Gums an Emergency?
Is an Unresponsive Dog an Emergency?
Is Coughing an Emergency?
Is Choking an Emergency?
Is Head Pressing and Emergency?
Are Bug Stings an Emergency?
Are Spider or Snake Bites an Emergency?
Are Animal Bites an Emergency?
Is Ingestion of Poison an Emergency?

Do you know what your dog is telling you about their health?

Learn how to detect and interpret the signs of a potential problem.

An award-winning guide to better understanding what your dog is telling you about their health, Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, is available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.


  1. I did not know Xylitol was even more dangerous than theobroma (chocolate). Thanks for this piece of info!

  2. We try to avoid this Xylitol stuff and sweeteners in general as even cats might be at risk from this. It is a frightening thing when I dog grabs something sweet - you need to act fast!

    1. Well, if it's sweet and has normal sugar it's not such a big deal. The problem is that these days you have to read the labels on everything.

  3. I used to chew gum quite a bit, but ever since I found out that xylitol is toxic to dogs, I stopped. Now on the rare occasion that I buy a pack, I check the label. (I also do that with any low calorie processed food.) It isn't worth the risk!

    1. I don't know if they make any gum with normal sugar. I do get gum sometimes but make sure there is no way Cookie could reach it. Things like medicine cabinet in the bathroom should be safe enough.

  4. It's scary how many things xylitol is in. Thank you for spreading the word!

    1. That is the really scary, part, yes. It's amazing to see all the things they put xylitol into.

  5. I've only recently learned of the dangers of Xylitol for dogs. It's scary how many things we have in our home are dangerous for our pets. I don't have any plants in my house because of their toxicity to cats.

  6. I knew Xylitol was bad for dogs, but I had no idea exactly why or how little it took to be fatal. Thanks for sharing this important information.

    1. I always like to not just know but to understand.

  7. I'm surprised almost 90% of the respondents knew xylitol ingestion would be an emergency. Thanks for the list of xylitol products. I was relieved to not see any that I use.

    1. Yeah, I was please the crowd is quite well educated about the subject.

  8. Thank you for spreading the awareness of this!! I constantly have to tell people to check their peanut butter. :(

    1. The peanut butter situation is truly ridiculous. Why on earth does peanut butter need a sweetener? If you taste normal straight peanuts peanut butter, it tastes sweet enough.

  9. And its in so so many products too!!!! Eek!