Xylitol is Deadly to Dogs

Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar replacement with many health benefits, including the prevention of issues such as cavities and ear infections. However, though xylitol is very beneficial to humans, it’s not safe for pets, especially dogs. If dogs ingest xylitol, they run the risk of going into hypoglycemic shock. Their bodies aren’t able to metabolize it the same as you and me, and as such is extremely dangerous for them.

If your dog has ingested xylitol, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Center immediately. If you’re unsure, but suspect your dog has ingested xylitol, watch for signs and symptoms, which can occur in the first 30 minutes of consumption.

The first sign of xylitol ingestion is typically vomiting. Other symptoms include lethargy, collapse, seizures, and ataxia. Hypoglycemic shock can happen anywhere from thirty minutes after ingestion up until twelve hours after ingestion. Hypoglycemia can develop even if as little as >0.1 gram/kilogram is ingested, according to ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. In theory what this means is that the heavier your dog is, the more xylitol it can handle before going into shock. However, bigger breeds of dogs have shown to be affected by xylitol as much as other breeds. Interestingly, it seems that while some breeds are greatly affected by xylitol, others don’t have a problem, but more research is being done to obtain more information. In any case, dogs should never consume xylitol.

Other Foods Dangerous for Dogs

The fact that xylitol is dangerous for your dog might make you hesitant to use it. However, there are many foods humans are capable of consuming that are dangerous for dogs to eat. Here are a few examples, but see this full list of foods to know exactly what to watch out for.

Alcohol: Beverages and food products with alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, coma, and even death if ingested by your dog.

Chocolate and Coffee: Cacao and coffee beans—the plants used to make chocolate and coffee—contain substances called methylxanthines, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea tremors, seizures, and even death if ingested by your dog.

Macadamia Nuts: If eaten by your dog, macadamia nuts can cause depression, vomiting, and hyperthermia.

Milk and Dairy: Even though puppies can drink milk from their mother, later in life dogs are essentially lactose intolerant. They don’t have the necessary lactase to properly digest dairy from cows for example, and therefore milk and other dairy products can cause diarrhea and other digestive problems.

It’s clear than humans can consume many foods that dogs cannot—xylitol isn’t any different. Humans can safely consume it, but it’s deadly to dogs the same way alcohol or chocolate can be. Again, if your dog ingests xylitol (or any of the above mentioned foods) get help immediately.

Why Xylitol is Safe for Humans

In humans and dogs, blood sugar levels are determined by the amount of insulin released from the pancreas into the bloodstream. In dogs, xylitol is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and results in a large insulin release, which triggers the symptoms mentioned above. In humans, xylitol doesn’t cause the pancreas to release insulin (and is even safe for diabetics, as it’s glycemic index is less than 1/10 of regular sugar).

Xylitol and Dogs
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