Here at Anasazi Animal Clinic, we have seen an increase in pets being rushed to our office after eating something containing xylitol. Because this substance is toxic and potentially deadly to animals, we want to make sure everyone knows what xylitol is and the symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs and cats. 

What is xylitol?

Xylitol is an alcohol that naturally occurs in a variety of vegetables and fruits. Over the past few years, xylitol has become a popular sugar substitute in candy, sugar-free gum, and mints. It can also be found in commercial baked goods, drink powders, barbecue sauces, sugar-free desserts, and peanut butter. However, its most common use is in oral care products like toothpaste and mouthwash.

What are the signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs and cats? 

While xylitol is completely safe for humans, the opposite is true for dogs and cats. The smallest amount of xylitol can be toxic and even deadly to pets. 

When a cat or dog eats xylitol, their liver signals the pancreas to release insulin. This results in a rapid drop in blood sugar, causing hypoglycemia. Once ingested, xylitol can lower a pet’s blood sugar in just 10 to 60 minutes. This rapid drop in blood sugar can cause a dog or cat to go into liver failure, causing a coma or even death.

Symptoms of xylitol poisoning include: 

  • Loss of energy
  • No appetite
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Poor coordination
  • Shaking or seizures

How do you treat xylitol poisoning? 

If your cat or dog ingested xylitol, it is a veterinary emergency. 

If you suspect your pet has eaten something containing xylitol, you should immediately bring them to a veterinarian for a thorough examination and bloodwork. The veterinarian will also be able to closely monitor your pet’s blood sugar levels over a one- to two-day period for any signs of hypoglycemia. They will also administer medications to help protect your pet’s liver and treat any existing symptoms. 

Educating Pet Owners in Gilbert, Arizona

While xylitol is a safe, natural sweetener for human consumption, it is 100% poison to pets. We hope this article helps make pet owners in Gilbert and Chandler aware of the dangers of xylitol poisoning in dogs and cats. 

If you ever suspect your pet has eaten something containing xylitol and it is after clinic hours, we urge you to call the Animal Poison Control Hotline at (888) 426-4435. 

And then make sure to contact Anasazi Animal Clinic for a follow-up visit or if it is during clinic hours.  

Photo by Ryan Stone on Unsplash