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Xylitol: Sugarfree Gum Can Kill Your Dog!

Updated on January 23, 2015

Your Dog Looks to You to Keep Him Safe

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Dog Deathtoll Still Climbing

The information that Xylitol, a sugar free sweetener, is deadly to dogs is not new. However, the number of dog deaths related to ingesting Xylitol is still increasing alarmingly. A dog which eats even a small amount of Xylitol can die within hours from hypoglycemia or days later from liver damage or failure. Read labels and be aware of Xylitol in your home then hide it well from your dog.

What and Where is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a sugar substitute which can be found in many common products such as sugar free gum, toothpaste, packaged cookies and more. Xylitol can be enjoyed by humans, even the diabetic ones, without any negative side effects. Xylitol also claims to be beneficial to teeth because it mixes with the already present, cavity-fighting bacteria the mouth and creates even more cavity protection. It is therefore becoming a common additive to toothpaste.

If you are not a dog, Xylitol can be a healthful alternative to sugar and a benefit to your overall oral health. But please keep it out of reach of your pets. Dogs like the sweet flavor and can sniff out gum in your purse or pocket with ease; they have also been known to eat entire tubes of toothpaste...with dire consequences.


Why is it So Harmful to Dogs?

When a human ingests Xylitol, it does not increase the glucose (or sugar) in the blood; this is part of why it is considered better for you than sugar. However, for unknown reasons, the dog's body misreads this artificial sweetener as a HUGE dose of glucose. The dog's body reacts by releasing an equally huge dose of insulin to metabolize all this not-really-there sugar. The only real sugar in the blood is the normal healthy amount, but that is quickly absorbed by the extra insulin. The dog is left with extremely low blood sugar levels, a.k.a. hypoglycemia.

The first signs of hypoglycemia include lethargy, dizziness and lack of coordination. These symptoms can show up within minutes after eating the Xylitol. As little as 2 pieces of gum can cause hypoglycemia severe enough to result in seizures or even death. But the danger isn't over yet, now it is the job of the liver to absorb all the extra insulin still in the system. Within 24-48 hours, damage to the liver can become fatal. Just three grams of Xylitol are enough to kill a large (over 65 pound) dog.

What Can You Do?

The best way to protect your dog from harmful poisons is to keep them out of reach. Don't forget places like coat pockets, purses and bathroom counters where the dog can smell, find and reach these sweet "treats."

If your dog does get into a Xylitol laden product, call your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control immediately. I can't stress enough the importance of not waiting. These symptoms come on fast and furious. You may be advised to induce vomiting first or just get your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible. The phone number for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control is (888) 426-4435(888) 426-4435.

If this information helps save even one dog from toxicity or death, than it has done its job. I hope this is helpful to someone out there!

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    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
      Author

      Mrs. Menagerie 5 years ago from The Zoo

      Awesome MsLizzy!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      I found this article from dearabbysmom's story about how your article saved her dog's life.

      We don't have a dog anymore, but I know folks who do, so I've shared this far and wide!

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
      Author

      Mrs. Menagerie 6 years ago from The Zoo

      Wow...thanks so much RTalloni! Yea for Roxie!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Mrs. M, I'm just dropping by to say hi and bravo to you for helping to save Roxie's life, per dearabbysmom. So glad you posted this info for others to read!

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
      Author

      Mrs. Menagerie 7 years ago from The Zoo

      Thanks Bard!

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Excellent and informative hub! I have voted up and marked it as useful!

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
      Author

      Mrs. Menagerie 7 years ago from The Zoo

      ...and thank you Puppyluv! Hey, good luck in that contest, I saw that you were nominated:)

    • Puppyluv profile image

      Serena Zehlius 7 years ago from Hanover, PA

      Great hub! I see dogs coming into the ER with this type of toxicity quite often. That sugar free gum is what gets them every time. Thanks for making owners aware!

    • profile image

      DoItForHer 7 years ago

      When I feed my dog treats, I make an effort to see if the treat has been sweetened because I don't want my dog to become acclimated to the taste. If it develops a liking to sweetness, it will be more likely to eat antifreeze, gum, toothpaste, etc. A few sweeteners to watch out for are glucose, molasses, and propylene glycol.

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
      Author

      Mrs. Menagerie 7 years ago from The Zoo

      Thank you...I hope it helps.

    • ravko profile image

      ravko 7 years ago

      Nice and useful information, I had no idea that sugar free gum was harmful to my dogs...

    • youmeget profile image

      youmeget 7 years ago

      useful info here.

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
      Author

      Mrs. Menagerie 7 years ago from The Zoo

      Thanks Jax!

    • Matt in Jax profile image

      Matt in Jax 7 years ago from Jacksonville, FL

      Nice Hub and very interesting!

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
      Author

      Mrs. Menagerie 7 years ago from The Zoo

      Thank you both!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for publicizing this very important information. I expect that many people are interested in xylitol because it’s such a healthy sweetener for humans, but people need to know how deadly it is for dogs.

    • dearabbysmom profile image

      dearabbysmom 7 years ago from Indiana

      Thank you for writing this, it just blew me away. I've had dogs all my life and never knew this. One of my dogs regularly steals gum out of my purse and eats it. Thank heavens I don't chew a brand with Xylitol. I posted the information on my Facebook page.

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
      Author

      Mrs. Menagerie 7 years ago from The Zoo

      Thank you for reading my hub, L.L. Woodard.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 7 years ago from Oklahoma City

      This is great information to know and be able to prevent an un-intentioned poisoning.

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