El Dorado dog eating peanut butter without Xylitol.

There are definitely things in your home from which you need to protect your pet. Chocolate, rat poison, and the like are well known for being toxic. Some pet poisons are a little less obvious, though. 

Xylitol is a lesser-known hazard that all pet parents should know about. Get ready to up your pet safety game with MarketPlace Veterinary Hospital

Xylitol and Pets

Xylitol is a compound you might have heard of before. It’s gained a lot of popularity over recent years as an artificial sweetener in everything from gum to ice cream. It also has some anti-bacterial and dental health benefits, making it popular in oral care products. In the last few years, manufacturers have also been adding it to things like deodorant, lotions, and even clothing for its unique ability to retain moisture and create a smooth texture.

When people ingest xylitol, it doesn’t really elicit any response from the pancreas. In dogs, though, the pancreas responds to xylitol in the bloodstream by dumping excessive amounts of insulin into the body. This can result in a precipitous drop in blood sugar that can be life-threatening.

Symptoms of xylitol poisoning may occur for up to 24 hours after ingestion. They can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Decreased activity
  • Weakness
  • Incoordination
  • Collapse
  • Seizure

Some dogs may also develop severe liver disease after xylitol ingestion. Cats seem to be typically affected less severely. 

Pet Safety and Xylitol

When it comes to xylitol, there are definitely some pet safety considerations to prevent you from having to encounter this household danger. Be proactive by:

  • Knowing what products in your home contain xylitol (can also be labeled sugar alcohols or birch sugar)
  • Keeping xylitol containing products in a secure location away from your dog, especially if you have a young puppy or a known chewer
  • Only using pet-specific toothpaste for dental care
  • Avoiding human medications for your pet unless under the guidance of one of our veterinarians
  • Checking that any people food you choose give your pet is xylitol free
  • Keeping purses, backpacks, and coats of visitors out of the reach of pets

If you suspect that your pet may have ingested any amount of xylitol, please call us right away. Even a tiny amount can be devastating, and quick action before symptoms ensue can mean the difference between life and death. Xylitol ingestion is a true pet emergency

Xylitol is a danger hidden in our day-to-day lives, but with a little knowledge and pet safety action, you can protect the four-legged members of your home from harm. Knowledge is definitely power in this situation.