Animal Hospital of Kentwood

1538 44th St. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49508


Beware of Xylitol

Xylitol, an all-natural sugar substitute, is used in various sugar-free products.  It can be found in gums, candies, cookies, or cupcakes.  For baking purposes, it is sold in bags of crystals.  Xylitol is in products developed specifically for individuals who are diabetic.  It is also found in oral care products due to its bacterial killing properties.  The problem is that even though Xylitol has proven to be safe for humans, it can be deadly to dogs.

Ingestion of Xylitol in dogs causes a fast release of insulin.  This results in a rapid drop in blood sugar, known as hypoglycemia.  It can lead to liver failure and eventually death.

Clinical signs can develop in the dog in as few as thirty minutes after ingestion, according to the ASPCA Poison Control Center.  Since the effects of Xylitol are so rapid, the window of opportunity to treat the dog is extremely small.  Clinical signs may include vomiting, lethargy, depression, difficulty standing or walking, seizures, coma, and liver dysfunction or failure.

So how much is too much?  It appears that it does not take a whole lot of Xylitol to cause devastating effects.  As few as two to three sticks of gum containing Xylitol can be toxic to a twenty-pound dog.

With more sugar-free products becoming available on the market, cases of Xylitol exposure and toxicity in dogs is expected to increase.  So far, there is no evidence that Xylitol is toxic to pets other than dogs.  Remember, though, that some dogs tend to get into just about anything and will eat whatever is in their reach.  Cats do not scavenge for treats as dogs do, so it is possible that there are risks that have not been discovered.  Overall, it is best to keep Xylitol away from all animals.

Some of the common products containing Xylitol (not a complete list):

  • Crest Multicare Cool Mint Toothpaste
  • Gerber Toddler Tooth and Gum Cleanser
  • Oral-B Stages Baby Tooth and Gum Cleanser
  • Bayer Flintstone Vitamins Complete
  • Jello sugar-free pudding
  • Sugar-free gum: Trident, Orbit, Icebreakers, Altoids