Stolley Park
Veterinary Hospital

3020 W. Stolley Park Road  Grand Island, Nebraska  68801  
Phone:  308-384-6272   Fax:  308-384-0984

March Newsletter

Xylitol Toxicosis

 

It seems that everyone these days knows that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but the toxicity of artificial sweeteners is less familiar. We touched briefly on this topic in the October 2009 newsletter, but it seems to be developing into an increasingly important topic. So to get the word out there, today’s topic is xylitol poisoning.

Xylitol is a common artificial sweetener used in many products, including many types of chewing gum. It can also be found in candy, oral rinses, some vitamins, and throat lozenges. It is a surprisingly prevalent ingredient in many products.

Clinical signs are related to an extremely low blood sugar, and can include anything from depression, anorexia, and vomiting to a “drunken” appearance and seizures. These can occur as early as 30 minutes after ingestion (if xylitol is in powdered form). If known ingestion occurs and no signs are seen within 12 hours, normally no toxicity will occur. Another concern with xylitol exposure is that it can cause liver failure, which can be fatal.

If xylitol ingestion is observed, then the best course of action is immediate decontamination. This usually includes inducing vomiting, as well as IV fluids with dextrose and possibly steroids. Your veterinarian will then want to hospitalize your dog for observation and regular glucose checks for at least 12 hours. Liver failure may not become detectable for 48 hours after ingestion, so periodic liver tests should be performed to monitor.

If symptoms do occur, then more aggressive treatment may be necessary. IV fluids may be necessary for several days, in addition to liver protectant medication, stomach protectants and in some cases antibiotics may be necessary if liver damage has occurred.

The bottom line is: not everything that is safe for people is safe for animals. If you have any concerns or known exposure to artificial sweetener, please contact your veterinarian immediately.