Xylitol: Sugarfree Gum Can Kill Your Dog!
Your Dog Looks to You to Keep Him Safe
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!