Pets and Xylitol: A Dangerous Combination

Pets and Xylitol: A Dangerous Combination

Xylitol is one of the most common pet toxins out there. In fact, it’s likely that you already have a substance containing xylitol in your home! Keep your dog or cat safe—learn more below from a veterinarian at River Valley Veterinary Hospital, serving the Natrona Heights, PA area.

What Exactly is Xylitol?

Xylitol is an artificial sugar, often used in place of real sugar in candies, gums, and certain baked goods. For humans, xylitol is often marketed as a better alternative to sugar because of its lower calorie count and dental benefits, but it’s highly toxic to our animal friends!

Dogs are the most common house pets diagnosed with xylitol poisoning, but that’s likely because of dogs’ indiscriminate tastes. Cats, too, can suffer toxic reactions to xylitol.

How Much Xylitol Will Poison My Pet?

While this depends on the size of your particular pet, it does not take much of a product containing xylitol to cause serious health problems. As little as a stick and a half of xylitol-sweetened gum, or a few pieces of candy containing the artificial sweetener, can poison an animal who weighs 10 pounds or less.

What are the Symptoms of Poisoning?

The main symptom of xylitol poisoning is a sudden and dramatic decrease in blood sugar. This occurs because your pet’s pancreas will confuse xylitol with real sugar, releasing insulin as a response. This drop in blood sugar content can result in symptoms like lethargy, disorientation, diarrhea, vomiting, spasms, and seizures. Without treatment, it’s possible for a pet to slip into a coma and die.

In most cases, symptoms of xylitol poisoning appear within 30 minutes of ingestion. For this reason, it’s imperative that you rush a pet who has eaten a product containing xylitol to the nearest veterinary emergency room.

How is Xylitol Poisoning Treated?

A veterinarian may administer activated charcoal to slow the toxin’s absorption in your pet’s stomach. The stomach may also be flushed to rid the system of xylitol entirely. As your pet recovers, supportive measures like oxygen supplementation, fluid therapy, and other techniques will likely be needed.

How Do I Prevent Poisoning?

Clearly, it’s easier and safer to prevent poisoning rather than dealing with it afterward. All it takes is restricting your pet’s access to xylitol products; keep all candies, gum, and baked goods safely locked away.

Call your Natrona Heights, PA veterinarian for more information on xylitol poisoning.

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