You may have seen an article about the dangers of Xylitol to your pet, or you might have heard something on the news. We want to briefly talk about what Xylitol is, why it’s dangerous for your pet, and what steps to take should they ingest Xylitol.
First – so you don’t have to scroll through this entire Staff Chat if you need the information quickly – if your dog has eaten something containing Xylitol, or you suspect that they have, call us at 614-236-8549. Do NOT induce vomiting unless we request you do so. If we are not open, call an emergency clinic near you (MedVet 614-846-5800 or OSU 614-292-7159), or call the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680. The Pet Poison Helpline does charge a fee for the initial call, but that fee includes follow up consultations for the duration of the poison case.
Now – let’s talk about Xylitol. Xylitol is a lower calorie substitute for sugar that is increasingly being used to sweeten candy, peanut butter, sugar free gum, toothpaste, and a variety of oral care and human medications. Its usage has increased over the last several years, to the point that the Pet Poison Helpline states that in 2020, Xylitol calls were the second-highest received, with chocolate being the first. Since 2015, calls they have taken concerning Xylitol have more than doubled.
Why does Xylitol have the potential to be fatal for dogs, but humans have no ill effects with our consumption of it? Chemistry! When a dog eats something containing Xylitol, it is quickly absorbed in the bloodstream, which can cause the pancreas to release insulin. This insulin release (which does not occur when humans consume Xylitol) causes a profound and rapid decrease in blood sugar level (known as hypoglycemia) within 10 to 60 minutes of when the Xylitol was consumed. This drop in blood sugar can cause loss of consciousness, seizures, and liver failure if enough Xylitol was consumed – it can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. Other symptoms of Xylitol poisoning can include vomiting, weakness, lethargy, and tremors. However – if you know your dog has ingested Xylitol, do not wait for symptoms to develop before calling!
What can you do to help prevent this from occurring? Read your labels – not just on food products, but on oral products such as toothpaste, gum, cough syrup, and mouthwash. Check the ingredients on baked goods and puddings, and also on any over the counter medications you use. If Xylitol is in them, there’s no need for you to stop using that product, but you do need to ensure that it’s safely out of the way of your dog - especially if they’re a “counter surfer”!
For more information on Xylitol, and other potential poisons or toxins for your pet, visit the Pet Poison Helpline website at https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/
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