Jessica is an experienced pet mom with dogs, cats, rats, fish, axolotls, a gecko, chickens, and ducks.
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is commonly used as a sugar substitute. It is categorized as a sugar alcohol and it is naturally found in small amounts in some fruits and vegetables, although the amount in fruits and vegetables is not harmful to your pets. It is becoming more popular because it has 40% fewer calories than sugar, and it has a low glycemic index, meaning that it doesn't spike blood sugar or insulin.
For a lot of people, xylitol is a great alternative to sugar, so it is being added to a lot of different foods. It can also be found in hygiene items such as mouthwash and toothpaste. It is natural and not harmful to humans, but it is very harmful to dogs and cats. Luckily, most products that contain xylitol will have it printed on the ingredients label, so you can be aware of what foods in your house are dangerous to your pets.
What Foods Is Xylitol Found in?
The most obvious things xylitol is found in are sugar-free gums, candies, and things like toothpaste and mouth wash, but it is found in a lot of surprising places as well. It can be found in peanut butter (an important one to look out for with dogs!), barbeque sauces, baked goods, drink powders, ketchup, syrups, and many other foods. It is also commonly used as a sweetener for medicines and it is found in things that are not supposed to be eaten, like lip balms.
This website has a large list of items that contain xylitol, but it is always important to look at the ingredients list on any human food you want to give to your dog or cat. Xylitol is considered a natural sweetener, and sometimes food labels will just say ¨sugar alcohol.¨ Never give your pet something if you are unsure, it just isn't worth the risk.
What Happens if a Dog Eats Xylitol?
Even small amounts of xylitol can be deadly for a dog. For dogs, xylitol causes a severe insulin release, which can cause hypoglycemia and liver failure. Signs of xylitol poisoning are vomiting, seizures, lethargy, disorientation, collapsing, and coma. You may notice signs within 30 minutes, or it may take up to 12 hours to notice symptoms.
If you suspect that your dog has eaten xylitol it is important to take them to the vet right away, even if you haven't noticed any symptoms yet. You definitely don't want to wait and see, waiting could make the poisoning more severe. The sooner you take them to the vet, the better the chances are of your dog recovering.
What Happens if a Cat Eats Xylitol?
Cats are less likely to get into foods that contain xylitol than dogs simply because they are pickier, but xylitol can still have negative effects on them. Eating xylitol can cause their bodies to send out a rush of insulin, causing hypoglycemia. It can also cause liver failure. If your cat does eat xylitol you may notice symptoms such as seizures, lethargy, vomiting, drooling, and wobbliness.
Some sources claim that cats are a lot more resistant to xylitol than dogs are, but I would still make sure that it is not easily accessible to them. If you think that your cat has eaten something containing xylitol it is best to take them to the vet right away.
Who to Call if Your Pet Has Eaten Xylitol
If your pet has eaten xylitol the #1 place you should be calling is your own vet or a local vet, and then you should rush them there. Xylitol poisoning is extremely serious, and it is definitely not something you want to wait and see about. The very best thing you can do in this situation is to take your pet to a professional.
If you can not get to a vet there are some numbers you can call.
ASPCA Animal Poison Control : 888-426-4435 a consultation fee may apply. This hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Pet Poison Helpline: 855-764-7661 there is a 65 dollar fee per incident. They are also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and they will work with you to get in touch with a veterinarian.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2021 Jess H