Xylitol is a very popular sugar substitute. It is seen most commonly in sugarless gum, toothpaste and certain types of peanut butter. For humans, Xylitol is safe BUT it is toxic to our dogs. (At this time it has not been reported to be toxic to cats).
In dogs, low doses of Xylitol can cause insulin release resulting in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) which can cause weakness, disorientation, tremor, seizures and even death. At higher doses Xylitol can also cause destruction of liver cells.
A small dog can easily be poisoned by one stick of gum, depending on the gum. The toxic dose is approximately 0.075-0.1 gms/kg. Some flavours of gum can have up to 0.3 mg/stick.
Signs of hypoglycemia can occur anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion. These usually begin with vomit/incoordination/collapse/seizures. Signs of liver necrosis take 8-12 hours to occur.
Ideally a patient can be seen quickly (30 minutes) and be made to vomit. A sugar IV drip may be needed for 24 hours. Liver values are tested for 2-3 days.
Xylitol poisoning is preventable. Please make sure to check products for Xylitol and keep them out of reach of your dogs.
Try to avoid sugarless gum and chocolate in stockings this Christmas!