Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure, or even death in dogs. This sugar substitute, found in some human foods and dental products, can be poisonous to your dog. Xylitol is often found in gum. Sometimes it’s referred to as birch sugar.
Gum isn’t the only product containing xylitol. Slightly lower in calories than sugar, this sugar substitute is also often used to sweeten sugar-free candy, such as mints and chocolate bars, as well as sugar-free chewing gum. Other products that may contain xylitol include:
- breath mints
- baked goods
- cough syrup
- children’s and adult chewable vitamins
- some peanut and nut butters
- over-the-counter medicines
- dietary supplements
- sugar-free desserts, including “skinny” ice cream
- peanut butter
Xylitol can be used in baked goods, too, such as cakes, muffins, and pies — often because the baker is substituting another sweetener for sugar, as in products for people with diabetes. People can buy xylitol in bulk to bake sweet treats at home. In-store bakeries also are selling baked goods containing the sweetener. It’s a good idea to keep all such products well out of your dog’s reach.
Symptoms of xylitol poisoning develop rapidly, usually within 15-30 minutes of consumption. Signs of hypoglycemia may include any or all of the following:
- Lack of coordination or difficulty walking or standing
- Depression or lethargy
If you think your dog has eaten xylitol, take him to your vet or an emergency animal hospital immediately.