The artificial sweetener xylitol is a sugar alcohol extracted from corn, birch, raspberries and plums. Often consumed by diabetics and people on low carbohydrate diets, xylitol is gaining popularity as a sugar substitute. Xylitol is toxic to dogs.
Xylitol is used to sweeten the following:
Xylitol is also:
When ingested orally, humans absorb xylitol slowly from about 50% to 95%. Dogs, however, absorb
xylitol rapidly and completely within approximately 30 minutes to 60 minutes of ingestion. Insulin
secretion can markedly increase when dogs consume xylitol and can result in severe hypoglycaemia (a
low blood sugar). For example, one or two pieces of gum containing xylitol can cause hypoglycaemia in a
10kg dog (0.1g/kg).
Symptoms (signs of toxicity) may not appear immediately such that your dog may be fine for up to a day
after ingesting xylitol—only to develop liver failure afterwards. Liver biochemistry values can increase
within 8-12 hours of exposure to xylitol. Ingesting amounts above 0.5 g/kg can cause acute liver failure
and death from hepatic necrosis (death of liver cells). For this reason, if symptoms of toxicity do not
appear immediately following ingestion of xylitol, it is very important that you do not assume your dog
is safe. Currently, the cause of xylitol-related liver failure is not well understood. Scientists suspect xylitol
and its metabolites deplete adenosine triphosphate, a nucleotide that is a major source of energy for
cellular reactions. Without sufficient amounts of adenosine triphosphate, cells in the liver die off.
Symptoms of xylitol intoxication include:
• Loss of coordination
If your dog is showing symptoms of xylitol intoxication, seek immediate veterinary care. Given that it is difficult to determine the quantity of xylitol contained in a particular product, it is recommended that people avoid giving their dogs products containing xylitol and/or consult with their veterinarian prior to using any product that lists xylitol as an ingredient.
Inspect the labels on the products listed below for xylitol and, as with all products that are potentially harmful to dogs, store these products safely out of reach from your dog: