If you enjoy sugar-free treats, then make sure that you keep anything made with xylitol away from your dog. While xylitol is fine for humans, it causes severe problems in most animals. Humans have a high tolerance for this substance, but most animals can get ill or die with minuscule amounts. Therefore, you have to be very careful in how you handle this substance around animals. Here is more information about what xylitol does to dogs, where you are most likely to find it, and what to do if you think your dog is poisoned.
What Does Xylitol Do to Dogs?
The reason why xylitol is such a problem for dogs and not humans is that it stimulates a huge insulin response. In humans, it does not. This insulin response causes a dog's blood sugar to drop quickly. This starts a cascade of serious health issues that affect all of your dog's systems. While cats are also sensitive to xylitol, they are not usually attracted to sweets, so they are less likely to consume these items.
What Products Have Xylitol?
One of the most common ways that dogs access xylitol is through sugarless gum. Many dogs are attracted to chewing gum. They often find it stuck under tables, under chairs, or even on the ground. They may even grab gum from your handbag or pocket. Xylitol is also common in other types of sugar-free candy as well as some low-sugar or sugar-free baked goods. Even toothpaste contains xylitol, so don't try to brush your dog's teeth with that. However, dog-safe toothpaste is perfectly safe (and your dog will like the taste better).
What Are the Signs of Xylitol Poisoning?
Your dog only needs to ingest the equivalent of a few sticks of gum to show symptoms, but it depends on your dog's size and breed. Dogs who have ingested xylitol will have hypoglycemia-related issues such as these:
- Trouble walking
How soon these symptoms present depends on how much and how quickly your dog consumes these items. Some dogs may not show symptoms for up to a day after eating the substance.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats Xylitol?
If your dog eats a sugar-free food, then read the food's ingredients to see if it contains xylitol. Many sugar-free foods contain other sweeteners that won't harm your pet. If you find your dog has consumed the substance, then take action immediately. Don't try to administer medication or induce vomiting as this could make your dog sicker. Call the pet poison hot line and bring your dog to a veterinarian right away for supportive care.
For more information about keeping pets healthy, reach out to an organization like Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic.