Xylitol Poisoning Symptoms


What are the symptoms of Xylitol poisoning? The sugar substitute can be deadly to dogs!




Xylitol Poisoning In Dogs!

Susan Thorpe-Vargas Ph.D


Ingestion can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar resulting in liver damage or death. Clinical signs may be delayed for hours, making Xylitol poisoning diagnosis difficult or symptoms can occur quickly.


Xylitol poisoning symptoms are depression, lethargy, progressing to loss of coordination and seizures. Suspected Xylitol ingestion requires immediate veterinary treatment.


The Animal Poison Control Center has reported a substantial increase in the number of cases of Xylitol poisoning. Xylitol is a sweetener that is found in sugar-free gum, candy, baked goods, desserts, toothpaste, and other oral-care products. It can also be purchased as granulated powder for cooking and baking.


The artificial sweetener can cause serious symptoms and sometimes life-threatening problems in dogs. In the October 1, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 8 adult dogs were evaluated for lethargy and vomiting after ingestion of Xylitol. Five of the 8 were either euthanized or died.


The Animal Poison Control Center managed more than 170 cases of Xylitol poisonings in 2005, up from approximately 70 in 2004. As of August, 2006, the poison control center had managed 114 cases in 2006. That may be due to the increased availability of Xylitol containing products or the increased awareness by the public and veterinarians.


While it was previously thought that only large concentrations of Xylitol could cause problems in dogs, lesser amounts of the sweetener may also be harmful.


"Our concern used to be mainly with products that contain xylitol as one of the first ingredients," said Dr. Eric Dunayer, who specializes in toxicology at the center. "However we have begun to see problems developing from ingestions of products with lesser amounts of this sweetener." He said that with smaller concentrations of Xylitol, the onset of symptoms and clinical signs could be delayed as much as 12 hours after ingestion.


What are the symptoms of Xylitol poisoning? Dogs that ingest substantial amounts of items sweetened with Xylitol can develop a sudden drop in blood sugar resulting in depression, loss of coordination, and seizures. These signs can develop quite rapidly, at times less than 30 minutes after ingestion of the product. Therefore, it is crucial that pet owners seek veterinary treatment immediately after ingestion or suspected ingestion of products containing Xylitol.


The poison control center also reported that there appears to be a strong link between Xylitol ingestions and the development of liver failure in dogs.


credit to: Dr. Vern Otte, DVM, State Line Animal Hospital, Leawood, KS and the Journal of the American Veterinary Association, October 2006.

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