Pets and Xylitol Poisoning

Xylitol is one of the most common and dangerous pet toxins out there. In fact, it’s likely already in your home or apartment! Fortunately, it just takes a little awareness and precautionary measures to keep your four-legged friend safe. Learn more here from a vet in Niwot, CO.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is an artificial sugar substitute often used in candy, gum, and certain baked pastry items. It’s safe for humans to ingest, and even has a lower calorie-count than normal sugar. However, xylitol is highly toxic to our animal friends. As little as a stick and a half of gum, or a few pieces of xylitol-sweetened candy, can cause harm to an animal that weighs 10 pounds or less! For our larger pets, a full pack of gum or candy can do serious damage.

Symptoms of Poisoning

Xylitol is particularly dangerous because a pet’s pancreas confuses it with real sugar. This results in a dramatic and sudden drop in the blood sugar level, which leads to the symptoms of poisoning. Common signs of xylitol poisoning include lethargy, disorientation, drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Without treatment, seizures, coma, and even death can occur.

Typically, symptoms of xylitol poisoning will appear within 30 minutes of ingestion. This is another reason that xylitol is a danger—it’s one of the fastest-acting pet toxins out there.

Treatment Process

If you see or suspect that your pet has ingested any product containing xylitol, rush them to the closest veterinary emergency room. A veterinarian may flush the stomach to rid a pet’s system of the toxin, or give activated charcoal to slow the poison’s absorption in the stomach. As a pet recovers, supportive measures like oxygen supplementation, fluid therapy, and more will likely be needed. Follow-up appointments to check the patient’s recovery progress should be scheduled.

Preventing Poisoning

Of course, it’s far easier to prevent episodes of poisoning in the first place rather than deal with one after the fact. This is as simple as tightly restricting your animal friend’s access to anything containing xylitol. Never leave candies, gums, or baked items out on the kitchen counters or tabletops; instead, store them inside of closed cabinets or the refrigerator. Use caution during parties or family gatherings, when candy or sweetened treats may be set out for guests.

Keep your Niwot, CO animal hospital’s phone number on hand to call with any questions. We’re here to help!

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