Xylitol: A Leading Cause of Pet Poisoning
As a dedicated and involved pet owner, you know the drill – you do your very best to prevent illness or injury, and if that doesn’t work, seek help immediately. In the case of accidental exposure to dangerous chemicals, medication or foods, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
Because a pet poisoning can cause irreparable damage to a pet’s health, it is imperative to prevent them from eating anything containing Xylitol, and provide emergency care if you know or suspect ingestion.
Good For Us, Bad For Them
Xylitol is a sugar substitute that naturally occurs in various berries, fruits, trees, and other plants. It has gained traction in wellness circles because of its low glycemic index.
As an artificial, yet natural, sweetener, Xylitol has fewer calories than sugar and is a powerful ingredient for diabetics and those on a carbohydrate-restricted diet.
Additionally, it has shown to be useful in dental products as a powerful combatant against plaque formation. Xylitol, when consumed via dental products like toothpaste, mouthwash, gum, mint and more, can stimulate saliva production and reduce dental cavities.
The No-No List
Since Xylitol is becoming more popular in a range of human products, it’s critical for pets to have limited opportunities to investigate the following items:
- Oral care products
- Pharmaceuticals, including laxatives, digestive aids, allergy medications, and nasal sprays
- Sugar-free gum, mint, candy, etc.
- Baked goods
- Chewy or gummy vitamins
- Sugar-free peanut butter
- Fruity drinks or sport drinks
- Low-sugar or sugar-free jellies or jams
Always read the labels of products that you bring into the house. If a product has Xylitol in it, be sure to secure it behind a closed cabinet door. Also, do a daily floor sweep and pick up backpacks, purses, and jackets that may have a tasty, yet poisonous, treat inside.
Signs of a Pet Poisoning
Xylitol is toxic to dogs because it can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Rapidly absorbed by the blood stream, Xylitol triggers the release of insulin from the pancreas which makes blood sugar levels plummet within an hour after consumption. Left alone, hypoglycemia can be life-threatening.
The risk of this type of pet poisoning is directly related to how much Xylitol is eaten, and how much a pet weighs. Other terrifying results include seizures, liver damage, and even death. Symptoms of Xylitol toxicity include:
- Uncharacteristic weakness, depression, lethargy
- Trouble with coordination, or mobility issues
Treating Xylitol Toxicity
Treating Xylitol toxicity is possible with IV fluid therapy, liver protectant drugs, blood sugar monitoring, dextrose administration, and ongoing supportive care. To avoid long term effects of this toxin, we must work quickly and aggressively.
If caught with enough time, prognosis for a pet poisoning from Xylitol can be positive. As with anything pertaining to your pet’s wellness, please contact our veterinarians. Highway Veterinary Hospital is always here for you!