Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used for its anti-cavity properties and use in sugar-free products like sugarless gum and candy. It is also available in packets with a granular formulation that can be used in place of sugar in diabetic recipes. When ingested, xylitol acts like insulin in dogs resulting in a drop in blood sugar 6 fold higher than the endogenous insulin.
This marked drop in blood glucose very quickly after ingestion can result in weakness, incoordination, seizures, and sometimes death. In some cases, some dogs develop liver dysfunction and failure. Dogs with serious intoxications can develop bleeding as the liver’s ability to continue to make clotting factors is affected, and they may require aggressive intensive care including one or more plasma/blood transfusions.
Please keep sugarless gum and candy away from dogs, as some dogs will even dig through cupboards and purses and backpacks on the floor and can chew into the hard plastic bottles. Some baked goods/pastries will contain xylitol, so if your dog eats any of these items, please bring it the attention of your primary care veterinarian immediately. Some homes with diabetic family members will have the packets of granular xylitol, and even small amounts can result in a fatal ingestion in dogs. Please call Animal Poison Control and your primary care veterinarian if you witness an ingestion or suspect a xylitol ingestion for immediate veterinary care.