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What is Xylitol Poisoning?

Xylitol is found in many products that may be within the reach of our canine family members. Vitamins and sugar-free gum are just two of the products that contain this sugar substitute which is growing in popularity. The antibacterial benefits  (making it an attractive addition to dental products) and the use as a sweetener (fewer calories than regular sugars) have increased the household use, and therefore, increased the cases of toxicity in dogs. With xylitol, absorption by dogs is rapid and complete; symptoms of poisoning can be seen in as little as 30 minutes after ingestion. Symptoms can escalate to life-threatening, with complications as serious as liver failure a result. In some cases though, symptoms do not appear for a few days but are nonetheless just as dangerous. A veterinary visit for detoxification is absolutely necessary for pets who ingest products containing xylitol.

Xylitol is classified as a five-carbon sugar alcohol which has many uses. An additive in dental care products, baked goods, nicotine gum, vitamins and more, xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs with symptoms ranging from lethargy to hypoglycemia. A dog who consumes xylitol must be seen by the veterinarian as effects can evolve to life-threatening proportions.

Xylitol Poisoning Average Cost

From 30 quotes ranging from $300 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,500

Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

Symptoms of xylitol poisoning can be evident in as little as 30 minutes.

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in stool
  • Drowsiness
  • Restlessness
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Loss of control of bodily movements

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is a very real danger with xylitol consumption. Symptoms of this effect can appear within 15 to 30 minutes but may be delayed up to 12 hours. Seizures and collapse are common. Recent studies have shown that liver damage is also a secondary complication that can occur; jaundice is a sign of liver issues as is the development of small purple and red spots on the skin (petechia). Other symptoms that may not be easily seen but can be life threatening include gastrointestinal hemorrhage and prolonged blood clotting time. The higher the amount of xylitol consumed per your dog’s body weight, the more toxicity will occur.

Types

Products containing xylitol include:

  • Nicotine gum
  • Sugar-free gum
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental rinses
  • Candy
  • Baked goods like cookies and bread
  • Granulated powder for baking
  • Chewable vitamins
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Causes of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

Xylitol is found naturally in fungi like mushrooms, berries, and lettuce. Though completely safe in humans and considered a good substitute for sugar, it is highly dangerous for canines.

  • Xylitol is absorbed into the bloodstream of dogs very rapidlly
  • Xylitol stimulates insulin release, which causes a drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Hypokalemia (deficiency of potassium) and hypophosphatemia (low phosphate levels) cause further distress
  • Xylitol causes poisonous effects that lead to liver damage
  • Elevated liver enzymes can be evident 12 to 24 hours after your pet consumes a product containing xylitol
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Diagnosis of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

As soon as you are aware that your pet may have consumed xylitol, call the veterinarian immediately. In most cases of xylitol poisoning, the symptoms arise very early on. Your veterinarian may diagnose the poisoning right away based on the history you have provided and the clinical appearance of your dog. Because the symptoms can be Very severe within minutes, the course of action may be to stabilize your pet right away based on the signs of poisoning (low blood pressure, rapid heartrate, vomiting, lethargy) at the physical examination. Your pet will most likely be hospitalized right away and further diagnostic blood tests will be done during treatment in order to determine the level of toxicity.

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Treatment of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

Supportive measures and the monitoring of levels to normal ranges are crucial to your dog’s treatment and recovery. Blood tests will indicate the blood sugar level and state of hypokalemia or hypophosphatemia if present. Treatment will depend on how much xylitol was consumed, the length of time that the xylitol has been in the system, your dog’s state of health before consumption, and the condition of his liver as a result. With liver issues, the veterinarian may see skin color changes in your dog because of bleeding under the skin (ecchymosis). Petechia, which is red and purple spots on the skin, can also indicate liver problems and coagulopathy (the impairment of clotting ability in the blood).

Intravenous fluid therapy will be administered and will help correct glucose, potassium, and phosphorous levels. Liver protectants, along with antioxidants, vitamins C, E, and K1 will be included. Antibiotics may be recommended as well. 

In the case of a severe coagulation complication, blood plasma or whole blood transfusions may be needed. In any case of xylitol poisoning, your dog will remain in the hospital until the veterinary team feels that the liver is functioning normally and all blood markers are at the levels they should be.

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Recovery of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

A dog who has ingested xylitol in any form will benefit the most from quick and aggressive treatment. Pets who receive fast therapy have the most positive prognosis. If the xylitol poisoning has led to complications like hyperbilirubinemia, which can mean impaired liver function, or coagulopathy, which is a disorder of the blood clotting process, the prognosis is guarded to poor. When your pet returns home from the hospital you will need to provide a quiet resting place, but one where you can keep an eye on him. Call your veterinarian if you have concerns about the progess of his recovery. Store any products and foodstuffs out of the reach of your dog. In addition, spread the word to your friends and family who are pet owners as they may not be aware of the dangers of products such as chewing gum and toothpaste.

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Xylitol Poisoning Average Cost

From 30 quotes ranging from $300 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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Xylitol Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Shitzu

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Twelve Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Trembling

Dog had about 1 tbsp of diet lemonade yesterday around 3 Pm- has intermittent periods of trembling and shaking- seems does not want to lie on her side when this is happening - no diarrhea, no vomiting, is urinating, not drinking a lot but will drink if I put a little pumpkin in the water, she drank the lemonade about 25 hours ago....the trembling stops after About 10 minutes, and maybe every couple Of hours but she does not have a lot of energy and walks slowly - respirations about 16/minute

Aug. 15, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If the diet lemonade had xylitol in it, she may need medical attention. That ingredient can drop blood sugar and lead to liver failure. If she is showing these signs, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian right away, as they can examine her and check blood work to see what treatment she might need. I hope that all goes well for her.

Aug. 15, 2020

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Weimaraner

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

Hello. My dog at some sugar free gum two days ago. (We just found the gum case tucked in the couch) he threw up a few times on the first day, hasn’t done it since. And seems to be himself and acting normal. Should I take him to the vet or is he going to be okay? He weighs about 55-60 lbs.

Aug. 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. The ingredient Xylitol in sugar-free gum can cause a dramatic decrease in blood sugar and liver failure. It seems like your dog is past the point of danger if it was two days ago, but to be safe it might be a good idea to have your dog seen by a veterinarian and have liver enzymes checked. If his liver enzymes are normal at this point, I think that you are safe. I hope that all goes well for your dog.

Aug. 14, 2020

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Misty

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Labrador Collie

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8 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

Hi there, My 8 year old labby cross collie ate half a muffin that contained xylitol. She ate it some time between 4:30 and 6:00pm. I took her to the vet at about 7:30 pm once I realised. They induced vomiting and gave her activated charcoal to help with the toxins. She is now home with me and I am just wondering if she will be okay? They say to just keep an eye on her but I am still worried. She is still weak but walking around but I think that's from the medication they used to induce the vomiting. But the fact that they didn't need to keep her overnight is a good sign right?

Sept. 5, 2018

Misty's Owner

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Sadie & Buddy

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Rat Terrier

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6 Years

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

My two dogs got into a pack of gum, not sure how much each of them ate they are both 15-20 lbs. it’s probably been 30 min. since and neither of them are showing any symptoms or doing anything unusual. Should we take them to the vet now or just watch them? Sadie is 4 years and Buddy is 8 years.

Aug. 14, 2018

Sadie & Buddy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Xylitol poisoning normally results in symptoms of hypoglycemia within an hour or so of ingestion as the xylitol is rapidly absorbed by the body; it has been a few hours since your question, if there have been no symptoms you should keep an eye on them and visit your Veterinarian if any symptoms present. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 14, 2018

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Dexter

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Labrador Retriever

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17 Weeks

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Sleepiness

I have a 38 pound, 4 month old Labrador retriever named Dexter who ate at most three pieces of sugar-free, Juicy Fruit gum with xylitol as the first listed ingredient, but no listed amount. It’s been a few hours, but we didn’t know about xylitol poisoning until an hour after he ate the gum. He is a strong puppy, and he has pooped already and has not vomited yet, and is eating pretty well, so we didn’t take him to the vet. However, since then he has been sleeping more than normal. Also, I may have seen him “fall” into a sitting position once, but he is usually a pretty clumsy puppy and probably just tripped. Is there anything I should be worried about? He is as playful as always, but very tired. Thank you

Aug. 6, 2018

Dexter's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Dogs are over a hundred times more sensitive to xylitol than humans and the presence of this alcohol based sugar can cause hypoglycemia which may cause the symptoms you’re describing; you should visit an Emergency Veterinarian to be on the safe side given the symptoms/behaviour exhibited and how dangerous is can be. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 6, 2018

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Zoey

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Beagle

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1 Year

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Serious severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Loss Of Balance
Lethargic

Zoey ate about 40 Pur mints which are pretty much pure xylitol. She started throwing up almost immediately and was unable to make it up the stairs. I didn’t know xylitol was toxic to dogs but rushed her the the vet anyway because I knew something was wrong. The vet didn’t need to pump her stomach as she threw up about 6 times prior to arrival. The vet immediately gave her a dextrose pump and monitored her liver function. She was on close watch for 4 days and she made a full recovery. The thing that saved her life was the fact that I was able to get her to the vet within 40 minutes of consumption. If you suspect your dog has had even the smallest amount. Rush them to the vet and also put corn syrup or honey on their gums so

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Mishka

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American Eskimo

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Shwing No Symptoms After Inducin
Chewed Gum Package
Mild Shaking

Dog ate most pack of gum with xylitol being the third ingredient. Took to vet and induced vomiting within about an hour of ingestion. I couldn't afford to pay for blood work and am worried.

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Roxi

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Doux x cocker

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11 Years

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Fair severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Siezures

I have an 11 year old doux x cocker mix that ate a piece of sugar free candy, I'm quessing that it had xylitol in it. I don't have the bag anymore. She started panting very heavy and latter went into a severe seizure that lasted 5 min. I placed a stick in her mouth so she would not swallow her tongue. She has had at this time 4 siesures and foaming at the mouth. When she comes out of them, she drinks and eats a small amount of food. I gave her a few drops of honey on her tongue. I can't get her to a vet until they open on Monday, she does suffer from cushing desease. The seizures come around ever 70 min. How often should I give her honey and how long does the xylitol stay in their system, thank you, Don L?

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Elly May

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Goldendoodle

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

My goldendoodle (4 yrs old) ate about 7 pieces of Trident gum around 1015am while I was in the bathroom. I came out and found the papers and called the Vet ER. I used peroxide and she vomitted he gum and wrappers within 30 minutes of ingestion. The Vet ER examined her and she was asymptomatic and bloodwork was normal. I took her home and monitored closely. I fed her about every 2-3 hours chicken/rice. My regular vet checked bloodwork on Monday and said it was great. Today she vomitted outside and then when I got home from work. It was yellow bile vomit and then she had a liquid stool. Would these symptoms be indicative of liver failure or something else?

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Linkin

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Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

No Symptoms

I noticed by 9lb chihuahua had ate some sugar free gum he had grabbed from the end table. I wasn't sure how much he had ate or what was in the package. I immediately induced vomiting using 3% hydrogen peroxide 1 tsp by mouth. He threw it all up within 10 mins. I rushed him to the vet clinic I work at which is literally down the street from my house. We administered IV fluids and checked his blood glucose hourly. He is doing well tonight. BG at its lowest was 98. Checked it before bedtime it's now 111. I will continue to monitor him over next few days. Will probably do blood work just to make sure his liver value is normal just for peace of mind. I'm always so careful. This was a freak accident. Glad I caught it in time and acted quickly. I'm almost positive he will be ok.

Xylitol Poisoning Average Cost

From 30 quotes ranging from $300 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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