Welcome to the first Olympia Pet Emergency (OPE) Blog Article! Our personal goal is to post some form of informational and/or entertaining short article monthly on our OPE Blog. We hope you can both learn from them as well as enjoy them. We also hope that they spark an interest to learn more about each subject.
Xylitol: All Artificial Sweeteners Are Not Created Equal
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that has been around for over 100 years. It is a very sweet substance that is great for people (zero calorie, anti-cavity). It is toxic and potentially lethal to our canine companions and exposure should be avoided at all cost. In dogs, toxic doses can produce three “hits”: 1. A dangerous and persistent drop in blood glucose, 2. Damage to liver cells resulting in possible liver failure, and 3. Uncontrolled bleeding from the inability to clot blood.
Dose and signs
The amount needed to create toxic and lethal effects varies from dog to dog, but there are a few general rules of thumb that have been developed over the past few years by toxicologists. A 20lb dog could receive a toxic dose in as little as a single piece of typical xylitol-containing gum. Initial signs may include vomiting, weakness, collapse and seizures and can develop within 30 minutes after ingestion of a toxic dose. Some signs will not be evident until 12-24 hours after ingestion.
Some common household items that may contain Xylitol are: sugar-free gum, some liquid formulations of human medications, mints, nicotine gum, chewable vitamins, oral-care products (mouthwash, “natural toothpaste” etc.), baked goods, peanut butter, diabetic candies ad others!
What to do
If you suspect or know that your dog ingested any product that contains xylitol (look for “sugar alcohols” on the nutritional facts label), you should call your primary care veterinary practice, your local veterinary emergency facility or a pet poison center service immediately.