Xylitol and Dogs

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     Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs 

Recently it has come to view that there is a new toxin around that dogs are getting exposed to with grave results. This is a sweetener called Xylitol.

Xylitol can be found in toothpastes, sugar free gums, low carbohydrate baked goods and deserts, and is available a a powdered sweetener. It is advocated for use by diabetics and low carbohydrate dieters. In humans, there appears to be no real known severe side effects. This is NOT true at all for dogs.

In lower dosgases the toxicity seems to be related to increased insulin production by the dogs pancrease which then severely lowers the blood sugar levels. Signs can be weakness, vomiting, staggered movements, and even seizures. All of this has a very rapid onset and can occur in 30 minutesor even less.

Higher dosages may have the above effect, but also have a later onset liver failure and bleeding trouble from lack of proper liver function. The liver is the main detoxifier of the body and also is needed for the production of many components that help the body correctly form clots to aviod bleeding. When liver failure occurs toxins build up in the body and bleeding can occur into the lungs, body cavities and bee seen on a smaller scale on the gums and in the whites of the eyes.

The dogs listed in the paper I read on this toxicity had varied responses to therapy and no specific treatment is available-only supprtive care. Such may include fluids, blood or plasma transfusions, antibiotics, and other medicines to control whatever symptoms develop.

The outcome of the toxicity was often death despite dramatic measures to dave the pet. Dosage of the Xylitol ingested did not seem to be predictive of survival versus not. Amounts as low as 0.15grams/kilogram body weight (or 0.07 grams/pound of body weight) could be toxic as was reported in the article I read (1). Age and previous medical conditions did seem to play a role. Certainly, how fast the dog was seem at the vet helped.

If you happen to have any of these products around, you may first want to look at if it is worth continuuing to risk potetnital exposure to this product. Definitely, store them way out of the reach of pets. IF exposure occurs, call your veterinarian IMMEDIATELY for advise on if you should make your dog vomit and how. And definitley get the pet to the clinic withour delay.

No data so far has been given on Xylitol and cats. Cats don't tend to eat such things as much as dogs, BUT, cats are usually MUCH more sensitive to any toxin tan dogs so I would be even more careful with them.

If you are diabetic or on a low carbohydrate diet, really investigate the options. Stevia is safe as far as anyone has been able to tell. And the only animals that would suffer from eating sugar (versus some sweetener) would be a diabetic one.

reference 1. "Acute hepatic failure and coagulopathy associated with xylitol ingestion in eight dogs" by Eric K Dunayer, MS , VMD and Sharon M. Gwaltney-Brant, DVM, PHD, DABVT.

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