Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is often found in many products and food such as toothpaste, sugar-free candy/breath mints, and most commonly in many brands of sugar-free chewing gum.
Xylitol, while safe for human consumption, is toxic to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure and even death. The toxic dose of xylitol in dogs is approximately 0.1 grams/kg of body weight. One piece of chewing gum or 1 breath mint typically contains 0.2 to 1 gram of xylitol. Meaning that it could take only one piece of gum or 1 breath mint containing xylitol to cause toxicity in a dog. Even an old chewed piece of gum could potentially have enough xylitol left in it to harm a dog seriously.
One of the first symptoms that can arise from ingesting xylitol is hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Clinical signs to watch for can include vomiting, weakness, ataxia ( difficulty getting up and or walking), depression, and seizures.
It is extremely important that the pet owner takes their dog to the veterinarian right away if they suspect or have witnessed the dog ingesting a product containing xylitol. Symptoms of toxicity can start to take effect within 30 minutes of ingestion.
The sooner a veterinarian can start proper treatment after ingestion, the better the chance for a full recovery with no long term side effects.
If you have any questions or concerns, please give us a call at 506.622.2355.
Written by: Carla, RVT