Is Xylitol dangerous for dogs?
Most people have heard of the alternative sweetener called xylitol. This sugar substitute is often recommended for diabetics and has been praised for its ability to reduce the process of tooth decay. Xylitol has shown to be highly toxic to dogs, according to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
Xylitol is used in many products such as chewing gum, mints, nicotine gum, chewable vitamins, and oral care products. It is also often purchased in granulated form and used as a sweetener for cereals, beverages, and baked goods. Although discovered in the late 1800s, xylitol was not used for commercial purposes until the 1970s.
Xylitol has grown in popularity during the past several years, mostly because it is considered a good sugar substitute for those on a low-carbohydrate diet and those concerned with the glycemic index of foods. Xylitol is popular among diabetics because it does not cause large peaks of insulin production after ingestion. As the popularity and number of products containing xylitol have increased, so has the number of reported toxic exposures to dogs.
Although it has always been known that xylitol causes hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in dogs, it has only been recently discovered to produce acute and possibly life-threatening liver disease. Humans and dogs do not metabolize substances in the same way and xylitol is no exception. Dogs seem to absorb almost 100% of xylitol while humans absorb only 50%. As a result, only a small amount is needed to produce toxic effects.
Pet owners who are watching their diets and using xylitol-sweetened products in their home need to be aware of its toxic effect on dogs. You need to use caution and ensure that your dogs do not get hold of any of these products. If your dog is prone to sneak snacks from the table or counter, be sure to check the ingredients on all packages as xylitol is used frequently on a commercial basis. Other sugar sweeteners such as sorbitol, mannitol, saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose are generally regarded as safe for dogs.
If you suspect your dog has ingested xylitol, don’t delay. Call your veterinarian immediately.