XYLITOL AND DOGS

xylitol-and-dogs

XYLITOL AND DOGS

xylitol-and-dogs

Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol commonly used as an alternative sweetener. The name xylitol comes from the word “xylose” or “wood sugar”, as it was initially produced from birch trees in the early 1900’s. Xylitol is also known by other names such as wood sugar, birch sugar or E967. Xylitol has several reported health benefits for humans including inhibiting the growth of bacteria in the mouth and having a low glycemic index. As a result, xylitol is used as a sweetener in many sugar free chewing gums, candies, mints, diabetic friendly foods and oral care products.

The Animal Poisons Helpline is frequently contacted about dogs that have ingested xylitol containing products. When a dog ingests xylitol, the pancreas confuses xylitol with real sugar and it stimulates the release of large amounts of insulin. As a result, life-threatening low blood sugar levels can occur. Affected dogs will commonly develop significant weakness and lethargy, may be unsteady on their feet or display vague or absent behaviour. If left untreated, xylitol poisoning can be life-threatening. Dogs that ingest large amounts of xylitol can also be at risk of developing liver failure.

The onset of clinical signs varies depending on the formulation of the product. Signs often develop rapidly, however following ingestion of xylitol containing gum the onset can be delayed by many hours as the xylitol is slowly released from the gum matrix. Cats do not appear to have the same sensitivity to xylitol as dogs and are not expected to develop hypoglycaemia or liver injury following ingestion.

If you are a dog owner, please be cautious with xylitol containing products. The Animal Poisons Helpline has compiled Australasia’s only xylitol database. Our ongoing work with manufacturers has seen the number of products in the database grow significantly with over 800 xylitol containing products now listed. Our team can rapidly determine the presence and quantity of xylitol in a large range of pharmaceuticals, complementary medicines, food, confectionery and dental products.

The Animal Poisons Helpline provides free advice to pet owners in Australia and New Zealand and can be reached on ☎️ 1300 869 738 (AU) or 0800 869 738 (NZ). If you don’t already follow the Animal Poisons Helpline Facebook page, follow now to receive live animal poisons alerts and updates. If you are a member of a veterinary team in Australia or New Zealand, you can join the Animal Poisons Centre For Vets Facebook group which is regularly updated with toxicology tidbits and poisoning trends. We thank the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development for supporting this post.