Does your dog have a sweet tooth? Does he drool at the thought of sharing that deliciously sweet snack with you? Now there is one more reason to keep the sweets all to yourself. The sweetener xylitol is toxic to dogs. It has been known to cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in dogs for years, but recently it has been discovered that it can cause acute liver disease and a coagulopathy (inability to clot the blood). A study found that 0.5g/kg or more of ingested xylitol can cause liver failure.
What does this mean in the real world?
One piece of sugar free gum with xylitol has around 0.3g of xylitol in it. Some gums can have as much as 1g of xylitol per piece. If you bake with the xylitol powder one cup has 190g of xylitol. If a recipe calls for 1 cups of xylitol to make 24 cup cakes, it will only take 2 cupcakes to cause acute liver disease in a 50lb dog.
What are the signs of xylitol toxicity?
Vomiting is usually the first sign of toxicity and then in 30-60 minutes hypoglycemia can occur. The signs of hypoglycemia can be lethargy, ataxia (stumbling around), collapse, and seizure. In cases where gum with xylitol was ingested the hypoglycemia may be delayed for up to 12 hours. In severe over doses some dogs do not display the signs of hypoglycemia prior to the onset of liver failure. Instead lethargy and vomiting occurred 9-72 hours after exposure. They developed petechia (small spots of bleeding on the skin and mucus membranes like gums), echymosis (larger spots of bleeding seen on the skin and mucus membranes), and gastric hemorrhage (bleeding in the stomach).
What can you do if your dog does ingest xylitol?
Immediately bring him into your veterinarian and let her know which items contained xylitol. Remember how much you pet consumed (always estimate on the high side because it is always better to be overly cautious when it comes to the health and wellbeing of your faithful friend). Your veterinarian will want to treat your dog with dextrose (a type of sugar) so that they do not go into hypoglycemic shock. They will also treat the pet for liver disease if enough xylitol is ingested.
The moral of the story is to keep the sweets up and away from your furry friend. Xylitol may help you watch your waist line, but it can be deadly to your furry friend.