a five-carbon sugar alcohol, obtained commercially from wood sugar
that is used as a sugar substitute. Xylitol is also naturally occurring
sweetener found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables, including
berries, corn husks, oats, mushrooms, and it can be extracted from corn
birch, raspberries, plums, and corn.
It is used
as a sugar substitute in many low-carbohydrate and diabetic products
now on the
market. Xylitol is completely non-toxic to humans, but it is very toxic
cause potentially fatal hypoglycemia and can lead to liver failure in
does not take much to cause these effects. Since 1960's, experiments
a link between the ingestion of xylitol and hypoglycemia in dogs.
In both humans and dogs, the levels of blood sugar are controlled by
release of insulin from the pancreas. In humans xylitol ingestion does
cause any significant changes in insulin levels or, therefore, blood
However, in dogs, xylitol causes a fast release of insulin, which
results in a
rapid decrease in blood glucose (hypoglycemia).
signs of poisoning with xylitol can develop in as few as 20 to 30
ingestion and may include one or more of the following:
- Uncoordinated movements
- Decreased Potassium
- Liver dysfunction
- Liver failure
significant amounts of gum or candies solely or largely sweetened with
may develop a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar, and these signs can
quite rapidly, it is very important that pet owners seek veterinary
or help from Animal Poison Control Center immediately.
that is not possible for
some reason or if your veterinarian consider it necessary, you should
vomiting in your pet at home by using 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2), the
solution used for the cleansing of cuts and scrapes that can be found
local drugstore. Generally, 3% Hydrogen Peroxide is very effective,
vomiting in about 10 to 15 minutes after dosing; once it has “fizzed”,
breaks down into water and oxygen and is quite harmless. The typical
inducing vomiting is about 1 ml per pound of body weight. Do not exceed
or 3 tablespoons, and never force H2O2 or any other liquid into your
mouth, because he or she may accidentally inhale it, which could lead
small meals or an oral sugar supplement may be recommended to manage
have not yet shown clinical signs. After the appearance of clinical
intravenous dextrose can be used to control hypoglycemia and some other
treatments may also be necessary until the blood glucose levels return
IMPORTANT NOTE: The induction of
vomiting is usually recommended if
performed very soon after ingestion of the xylitol-containing product
before clinical signs develop.
pet a slice of bread with milk before giving H2O2 or small amount of
food, as having food in the stomach can make vomiting a little easier.
should not be induced in animals exhibiting tremors or other neurologic
or with ingestions of certain substances such as caustic chemicals,
other items that could damage the gastrointestinal tract or become
Please do not use any
other “home remedies” such as salt,
mustard, or ipecac because they could actually result in potentially
complications such as sodium poisoning or cardiac arrhythmias and they
reliable means of getting pets to vomit.
The Animal Poison Control Center advises pet owners to
their animals food meant for human consumption, and to be especially
in keeping candy, gum or other foods containing chocolate or xylitol
out of the
reach of pets.
If you suspect that your
ingested a poisonous substance, call your veterinarian or the local Animal Poison Control Center for animal poison