tan dog getting medicine injected after eating xylitol

Xylitol and Dogs – Why Is It So Dangerous?


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Let’s not beat around the bush: the consumption of xylitol by dogs can be fatal. For humans, it’s a useful alternative to sugar and is diabetic-friendly. For dogs, it’s downright dangerous. While humans and dogs share loads of things, from beds to dinners, xylitol shouldn’t make that list.

You’d be surprised to hear that xylitol is found in all sorts of products. From chocolate to peanut butter and even mouthwash! All of them can cause xylitol poisoning in dogs. But what about cats? So far, the evidence isn’t completely conclusive.

First, let’s look into how xylitol toxicity happens in dogs, and then move along to our feline friends.

Why can’t dogs eat xylitol?

Xylitol is totally fine for people to eat. And it even tastes good – according to some, anyway! So why are xylitol and dogs such a bad mix?

When people eat xylitol, our body recognises that it isn’t actually real sugar, even if it tastes sweet. Which is why it’s so useful as a substitute for diabetic. When it comes to dogs though, it isn’t quite so simple.

Essentially, the dog’s body starts to produce insulin, which helps them process sugar. But of course, xylitol isn’t real sugar so there isn’t actually new sugar to process. What this means is that the xylitol is absorbed into the blood stream and the dog’s body releases a huge amount of insulin for no reason.

This causes a sudden and very dangerous drop in blood sugar, known as hypoglycemia, which can be fatal.  It can happen as soon as 10 minutes after a dog eats xylitol.

The main lesson? Any products with xylitol products need to be kept well out of reach of your dogs.

Can cats eat xylitol?

So, it’s clear that xylitol and dogs are a very bad match. But what about cats? Is xylitol toxic to them the same way it is to dogs? Is it as bad as chocolate? Worse? It’s a bit of a grey area. So far, studies looking into the effects of xylitol on cats haven’t been conclusive.

One study used six healthy and middle-aged cats, none of whom showed any adverse symptoms from consuming xylitol. But of course, this is a very small study. The results of six cats can’t be considered conclusive for all cats. Regardless, you probably don’t want to feed your kitty a jar of peanut butter sweetened with xylitol.

Accidental ingestion makes up a large percentage of our pet insurance claims. Xylitol aside, lots of common household items (like essential oils) can be harmful to pets. Chocolate toxicity in dogs and cats is well-known. But there are quite a few other things that can poison your pet which you might not be aware of, like grapes. Be sure top read up on it.

The good news is, you don’t need to resort to sugary foods to keep your pets happy with their treats. Diabetes in dogs and cats is just as bad as it is in humans. Instead, check out these non-toxic dog birthday cake ideas and homemade cat treats for meowser.

Symptoms of xylitol toxicity in dogs

Dogs are pretty food-motivated and might snatch up something without you realising. It’s a scary thought, but it means xylitol toxicity could happen without you knowing it.

Below are some symptoms:

  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Staggering
  • Swaying
  • Dragging feet
  • Loss of control
  • Vomiting
puppy gets its pet vaccinations

What to do with xylitol poisoning

Xylitol toxicity in dogs is a medical emergency that requires immediate professional treatment. If you suspect your dog has eaten xylitol, get to a vet straight away.

Your vet will administer treat your dog via an IV drip to give them insulin regulating medicine. If this is done early enough, your dog has a good chance of recovery. Sadly, eating xylitol can be fatal to a dog if treatment isn’t sought early enough.

In instances like these, a good dog insurance plan can make the world of difference. That way, you don’t have to weigh up your options before you head to the vet. Instead, you can just focus on getting treatment as quickly as possible.

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