- We strive to provide complete care for our patients. Learn more about all the services we provide.
You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.
|Xylitol and Your Dog|
1. Xylitol is becoming a more frequent cause of toxicity in dogs.
2. It can cause severe symptoms, even death.
3. It most commonly happens with dogs eating products made for people, including medications.
4. If you choose to get medications from a human pharmacy, be sure to have the pharmacist research whether any xylitol is in the product and speak your your veterinarian before giving medications to your dog.
There are an increasing number of cases of dogs getting sick from ingesting a common sugar substitute, xylitol. This substance causes no problems in people, but in dogs it can cause wild fluctuations in blood sugar, often leading to a severe hypoglycemia. It can also cause liver failure.
Xylitol is widely used as a sugar substitute since it is as sweet as sucrose but has only one–third of the calories. It is a naturally occurring alcohol found in some plant material. It is extracted from birch wood to make the commercial product.
The types of items where xylitol can be found is increasing. It is common in sugarless gum, mints, and candies. It can be found in some foodstuffs, such as baked goods. It is present in some toiletries, such as toothpaste, mouthwash, and other oral care products, such as Crest White Strips. It is found in some over-the-counter medicines: nasal sprays, Flintstones Children's Vitamins, Beano liquid drops, and Nicorette gum. Some tube feeding formulas contain xylitol. Even some prescription medications, specifically Mobic oral suspension, Gabapentin oral solution, and Zegrid contain xylitol.
Once a dog ingests xylitol, symptoms may occur in minutes to hours. At lower doses, hypoglycemia is common. You might notice the dog acting weak, staggering, unable to walk, or even seizing. At higher doses, it frequently causes liver failure. With this you may see a loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and jaundice.
It does not take much xylitol to make a dog sick. Even one to two pieces of sugarless gum can cause disease in a small dog. The problem is that xylitol is not always listed as an ingredient on the label, or the amount of xylitol in the product may not be detailed. Often it is listed in "Inactive Ingredients," or "Other Ingredients," but sometimes it is grouped together with other compounds as "sugar alcohols", or it is not listed at all.
Veterinarians and veterinary pharmaceutical companies are well aware of this problem, so this is not the source of problems. Dogs become sick when they chew up people's food, toiletries, or medicine containing Xylitol; the other common method of toxicity is when people pick up medications at a human pharmacy for use in their dog. This may be in commercial prescription medications (especially liquids, as they are trying to improve the flavor for people by sweetening their product), or in compounded medications. Always ask the pharmacist to look in their references to see if xylitol is an ingredient in a medicine before giving it to your dog. They undoubtedly will not know this already since it is not an active ingredient and this problem does not occur in people. Always consult your veterinarian before administering any medications to your dog.
"New Findings on the Effects of Xylitol Ingestion in Dogs". Veterinary Medicine, Dec 2006' pages 791-797.
New patients get 50% OFF office call!
Sign-up using the form or call us at 208-436-9818 to take advantage of this exclusive offer.
Don't take a good vet for granted, that's what I say. I currently live in another state and have taken my 10 year old dog to numerous vets over the years (California, Colorado, Vegas, and then some). Never have I ever received the attention and care I've gotten w/Dr. Hines. Within the past 3 months alone, my dog went to 3 different vets for a horrible and painful skin problem that broke out all over her body.
The first vet: I spent more time ponying up the $175 for the visit than the Dr. spent actually looking at my dog. He performed a woods lamp exam for ringworm. Even without Google or a veterinary degree, I could tell it wasn't ringworm. Thanks for taking my money.
Second vet: "Here's some spray, now here's your bill. Bring her back in two weeks so I can charge you another visit." No tests, nothing.
Between the two, I felt like I got nowhere. No definitive answer on why this affected my dog and the medication given wasn't even for a diagnosed condition. Just some general topical spray. I could have bought it at Petsmart and saved myself the time and money.
Recently, on a visit to Idaho, I planned ahead to bring my dog to the Rupert Animal Clinic. I asked the same questions, had the same concerns and now have different results. Dr. Hines gave me options on what route to take, ran appropriate tests and communicated with me every step of the way (even calling me personally when test results came in). My primary concern was cancer. Our dog is like our child- we'll pay the money if we can keep her healthy and safe. In the future, I've resolved to bring my dog to Rupert Animal Clinic on our annual trip for all of her exams. I know she won't be treated as a little cash cow to exploit an owner's love for pets.