The Dangers of Xylitol

One of the most common human-food substances that results in pet poisoning is xylitol. It may sound like something from a science fiction novel, but xylitol is almost certainly in your home right now! Learn more below from a London veterinarian.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is an artificial sugar that’s often put into candy, gum, and various baked goods. For humans, the substance is supposed to have dental benefits and a lower calorie count. For pets, the substance is quite toxic! Dogs, cats, and even other pets like rodents are at risk. Dog cases are the most widely-reported, but this may simply be due to the fact that dogs are the most likely to go rooting around for a human-food treat.

How Much Xylitol Does it Take to Poison a Pet?

For a pet that weighs 10 pounds or less, as little as a stick and a half of gum or a few small pieces of candy can be enough to poison them. So, if your pet decides to tear apart an entire pack of gum or bag of candy, the results could be disastrous!

What Are the Symptoms of Poisoning?

Your pet’s pancreas confuses xylitol with real sugar, releasing insulin in response. This causes the blood sugar level to drop, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, disorientation, and seizures. Depending on the amount of xylitol ingested, these symptoms can last for quite a while after consumption.

What’s the Treatment?

You’ll want to rush your pet to your local veterinary emergency room if you see or even suspect he’s consumed xylitol. The vet will probably induce vomiting to rid your pet’s system of the toxin. Fluid therapy and a sugar IV are also common treatments. In most cases, follow-up examinations are necessary for your vet to check on your pet’s progress.

How Can I Prevent Xylitol Poisoning?

Obviously, preventing xylitol poisoning is a lot easier than dealing with it after it’s happened. Luckily, it’s as easy as preventing your pet’s access to any product containing xylitol! Keep all gum, candy, and baked goods stored in sealed containers inside closed cabinets. Never leave these treats out on countertops or tables, where a pet could potentially swipe them down.

Remember to keep your London vet’s number close by to call in the event of an emergency. Also be sure to ask about other potentially harmful foods you already have in your kitchen!

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