Xylitol is TOXIC to Dogs!!

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is commonly found in items like sugar-free candies and gum. It is also found in some pharmaceuticals and oral health products like chewable vitamins and throat lozenges. While safe for humans, it is harmful - even fatal - for dogs. When ingested by dogsit causes a dangerous surge of insulin. In as short as 15 minutes, the blood sugar level of a dog that has ingested Xylitol may register a marked drop in blood sugar. At high doses, Xylitol is believed to be toxic to the canine liver. Just three grams of Xylitol can kill a 65 pound dog! Because of the different formulas used in producing sugarless gums and other products, the amount of that product consumed that could prove fatal varies and cannot be specified.

A dog that has consumed an item containing Xylitol can rapidly experience a drop in blood sugar causing weakness, lethargy, loss of coordination, collapse and/or seizures. Those symptoms can develop within 15 minutes and the dog must receive immediate veterinary treatment to survive. Without help, irreversible brain damage occurs and the dog most often will die. Xylitol also appears to cause severe liver damage within 24 hours. If you even think your dog has consumed Xylitol, call your veterinarian immediately. You will most likely be instructedto bring your dog in to have vomiting induced and IV fluids started. Veterinary treatment usually involves hospitalization and IV fluids containing glucose. Your dog's blood sugar levels will be monitored every couple hoursto adjust the glucose levels. It the liver tests normal after 24 hours, your dog should be ready to go home.

So how do you prevent Xylitol poisoning? Recognize that in addition to large canine teeth, most dogs also have a very large sweet tooth as well. Do not leave tasty treats lying around in reach of that toothy grin! As with many other items, such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, etc., NEVER assume that what is safe for peole is safe for dogs.


The following blog posts are posted here by permission of the author - Lesley Sinwald - and relate her experience with Xylitol poisoning in one of her dogs, Chance.

Post One
I normally don't post to the list as we are not showing any of our Dals at the moment. However, this morning's events have prompted me to share. Chance, my beautiful liver deafie who does incredible therapy work with our local hospice, dug into my purse, retrieved, and ate a brand new pack of Trident Layers gum. I discovered it almost immediately (I was in the bedroom getting dressed and out of sight for less than ten minutes) and called the vet. She wanted him brought in immediately, but then said the 20 minutes I estimated it would take to reach her might be too long, so instead she instructed me to give him one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide every ten minutes (up to three times) until he vomited. After the second dose (and still no vomiting), I grabbed a neighbor and we got him in the truck and headed toward the vet. Of course, today would be our first bad weather day this winter and many of the roads were drifting badly. It took much longer than normal to get there and my neighbor attempted to administer that third dose of hydrogen peroxide to Chancie in the back seat of the truck.

When we reached the vet's office, she whisked him away from me and said she'd continue to work on getting him to vomit. She instructed me to go home and wait for her call. I am a nervous wreck, especially after spending some time Googling this stuff. It's hard just to sit and wait and wonder...

I want to thank the list for discussing Xylitol in the past; that knowledge allowed me to react swiftly this morning. And I'd like to ask those of you who believe in the power of prayer to pray for Chancie. This is one special Dal and everyone that meets him immediately loves him. For those of you who have been on ShowDals for a long time, you may remember the contest he was in a couple of years ago. The photo we entered was of Chance on our boat in his bright yellow life jacket, his ornamental ears blowing in the breeze and a look of pure bliss on his face. I'm praying for this sweet boy to make it through this scare and come back home safely.

Post Two
Just got our first update on Chance. The vet tried another dose of hydrogen peroxide, but nothing happened. They then did a morphine injection (because one of the side effects is vomiting) and within two minutes, he spit up his breakfast and a substantial amount of gum and foil wrappings. They then drew blood and said it will be another hour or so before the results are in, but they are anxious to see his blood sugar levels and liver enzymes as those are the two most critical elements. Once they have that information, they will be able to determine next steps.

The fact that he threw up much of it is excellent. Now we just wait to see how much damage has been done.

Thank you to everyone that's praying for Chancie. It helps so much just knowing that you understand and are beside me in this.

Post Three
Second update on Chance:

Dr. called me at 4:30pm and had me pick Chancie up. She wants someone to be with him for the next 48 hours, as it will take that long to know he is out of danger. We are to watch for the following signs: Diarrhea, vomiting, acting drunk (stumbling or uncoordinated movements), or being lethargic (low blood sugar signs) and we are to keep checking his gums and eyes for signs of them turning yellow (liver involvement). She gave me her cell phone number and told me to call if ANY of these symptoms appear. The closest emergency clinic is 35 minutes away and she said that, if he showed any of these signs, she wouldn't want treatment delayed that long.

So, while I am cautiously optimistic, we really won't be certain until Sunday evening that he is out of the woods. I am so thankful that I was home with him at the time (although if I hadn't been, my purse - and the gum - would have been with me) and that I responded quickly. While my husband loves our three Dals a tremendous amount, he laughed when I called to tell him what happened. "It's just gum!", was his response. Well, from what I've read and the reaction of Chance's doctor, I think we can safely say that Xylitol ingestion is nothing to mess with. This has certainly scared me enough to continue to research and to make sure others know about this danger. I know that I will not be buying products with Xylitol in them anymore.

As a reference, I was able to find what seems to be a reliable list of products that contain Xylitol. Just wanted to provide this information so you all can be informed.

http://petdiabetes.wikia.com/wiki/Sugar-Free_Products_Warnings

Your prayers are working and I hope you'll continue to pray for him through the weekend. And thank you, Karen, Sharron, and Rebecca for the advice about how to get a dog to vomit. I am keeping this information for future use, which I hope I'll never need.

Post Four
Saturday update on Chance:

Chancie is acting nearly normal today!!! Although I wanted him to sleep with us last night so I could keep an eye on him, he chose to start the night in his normal position on the sofa. (This sweet deaf boy believes he is protecting his family by sleeping near the front door, even though an intruder could likely make many trips in and out without him waking up.) He went out to potty around 4 am and joined us in bed after (you all know the contortionist positions we must get into to accommodate three Dals in bed, right?). Today he is eating well (although still small meals every two hours, like the vet advised) and back to drinking lots of water (he was so pitiful looking yesterday as he would stand looking into the water bowls, too scared to take a drink - my guess is it reminded him of the hydrogen peroxide).

The vet put him on Denosyl (425mg), which is a pill given once a day on an empty stomach. Nutramax Labs* has good information on this medication, which is meant to protect and help repair the liver. I'm not sure whether this is something he will remain on as there are thirty tablets...I will confirm this next week as she wants to do follow up bloodwork on Chance (not an inexpensive drug @ 30 for $55.40).

Although we, of course, don't know whether Chance will have any long-term damage from this incident, it does seem that he is out of immediate danger. I am POSITIVE that the prayers of so many of you were instrumental in this outcome. I am so thankful to be a part of this amazing community of Dal parents!

I hope that this experience has enlightened all of us to the dangers of Xylitol. I am ready to get on my soapbox and make sure the world knows about how lethal this really is for our four-legged kids!

I have had a request to compile the tips I got about how to induce vomiting so that we can all be better prepared to take action if ever in an emergency situation with our Dals (good idea, Janet!).

From my vet: One tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide poured directly down the throat. If no vomiting in ten minutes, repeat. Still no vomiting, repeat a third time but no more. My comments: This didn't work for Chance, but that's not saying it wouldn't work on other dogs or even him in another situation. Also, I used an actual measuring spoon, but I'm thinking a syringe or even a turkey baster (?) would be easier in getting down deep in the mouth so I'm going to get something to add to my first aid kit.

From Rebecca Wolwade: I keep Lectric soda Crystals in my dog cupboard for just such an occasion. I had one of my girls, while down at dog training, race into the storage shed and gobble up a dead mouse. When I asked the instructors if they used rat poison in the sheds, they said they did, so I was terrified that this mouse had died of rat poison! So I raced home, and gave her the soda crystals (just about 5 large ones) and she immediately vomitted up the mouse! My comments: I'm not familiar with this product, but after some research, I find it is basically sodium carbonate, which is commonly called washing soda and used as a water softener. Lectric soda crystals must be a specific manufacturer name found mainly in Australia.

From Sharron Podleski: Put 3 tablespoons of salt in a dish. Sit the dog with its back to your legs, raise the head straight up and pour the salt directly down into the gullet. Then take the dog outside because within 5 minutes the dog will be vomiting. I have used this multiple times when my dogs have eaten rabbits and I didn't want them to get tapeworms.

From Dog First Aid 101: Your dog may, at some point, eat something toxic or that doesn't agree with her. These dog first aid supplies will help with most GI and poisoning problems.

  • Activated charcoal (for absorption of ingested toxic substances)
  • Syrup of Ipecac (to induce vomiting; do not use if your dog has ingested acids, alkalis, or petroleum products) — use only syrup of Ipecac; forms other than syrup can be fatal to dogs and humans
  • Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting; do not use if your dog has ingested acids, alkalis, or petroleum products)
  • Anti-gas tablets (for digestive problems)
  • Imodium tablets or generic brand (for diarrhea)
  • Pepto Bismol tablets (for digestive trouble)
  • Kaopectate or generic brand
My comments: This is excellent information as I wouldn't have known that how we should induce vomiting depends on what was ingested. This site has an extensive list of items that should be part of our dog first aid kit. There are A LOT of items and it isn't realistic to think we could keep them all at the ready, but toward the bottom of the page there is a list of essential items that should be available at all times. The list is located at: http://www.dog-first-aid-101.com/dog-first-aid-supplies.html

I'm thankful that several years ago I put together a first aid supply container that I keep on the shelf in my coat closet, right inside the front door. However, I will be revisiting this kit over the next week or so to make sure I have all the necessities and to update items (i.e. the hydrogen peroxide I used shows an expiration date of 2008, so perhaps that is why it did not induce vomiting in Chance). While we all think to check the expiration dates on the food in our refrigerator, how many times would we think to check the dates on the items in our first aid kit?

I hope this has been of some help. I am printing this information out to add to my first aid kit and using the list at the site mentioned to check on items I might need to buy.

Post Five
We took Chance to the vet's office yesterday for follow-up bloodwork (it's been 27 days since the "incident"). Outwardly, he has been acting absolutely normal, so I was anxious to see whether his insides fared as well. Unfortunately, the bloodwork yesterday showed his liver enzymes at 239. The vet said that the high end of the normal range would be 100, so you can see that his number is significantly higher. Quite honestly, I was surprised. I'm not naive, but I really did not expect to see any liver damage because of the speed with which I was able to react and get him treatment. What this tells me is that Xylitol is VERY NASTY STUFF, much worse than I even thought.

The vet switched him from Denosyl to Denamarin, which he will continue to take daily for the next month (evidently Denamarin has an additional ingredient that may help the liver in its efforts to repair itself). We will return in one month to repeat the bloodwork with the hope that the liver enzyme level has diminished somewhat.

You all were so wonderful in supporting me through this incident, so I wanted to let you know how Chance is doing. Hopefully, I'll have good news to report in another month, after our next appointment. Oh, and I have to share a nice compliment the vet gave us yesterday. She said that Chance is the sweetest, most well adjusted deafie she has ever met. Awwwww...