Xylitol Poisoning in Pets

As part of National Poison Prevention Month, your Indianapolis veterinarian encourages you to be on the lookout for a common household pet hazard: xylitol. Even the name sounds scary! Learn more about the symptoms and treatment below.

What Exactly is Xylitol?

Xylitol is an artificial sugar substitute that is often found in candy, gum, and certain baked goods. Xylitol’s benefits for humans include a lower calorie count than regular sugar and tooth-saving properties. However, xylitol is a known toxin to pets. Many cases of xylitol poisoning have been reported in dogs, and the substance is likely toxic to cats as well, although cat cases are rarer.

What Are the Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning?

Since a pet’s pancreas confuses xylitol with real sugar, it releases insulin. This causes a pet’s blood sugar to drop dramatically, which in turn can lead to weakness, spasms, vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, and even seizures. Usually, symptoms present themselves within 30 minutes of ingestion of xylitol, and can last for quite a while, depending on the amount ingested and the size of your pet.

How Much Does it Take to Poison a Pet?

A small dog or cat that weighs 10 pounds or less can be poisoned by as little as a stick and a half of gum that contains xylitol. As such, a pet that decides to make a meal out of a pack of xylitol-sweetened gum could be in real trouble.

What’s the Treatment for Xylitol Poisoning?

If you see any of the above symptoms or suspect your pet has ingested a product containing xylitol, rush them to your local veterinary emergency room. Your vet will likely induce vomiting to rid the stomach of the toxin. Fluid therapy and a sugar IV may be necessary, and follow-up appointments will probably be scheduled.

Can I Prevent Xylitol Poisoning?

Preventing poisoning episodes of any kind is as easy as restricting your pet’s access to products that may harm him. Keep all candies, gums, and baked goods stored safely where a pet can’t reach them. Don’t leave treats out on counters or tabletops.

Your Indianapolis veterinarian can tell you more about xylitol and its effects on a pet’s body. Call the office today if you have any further questions.

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