Xylitol is Dangerous for Dogs

Get Serious about Pet Proofing

Do you know what xylitol is? If you’re a dog owner it’s time you did. Here is the story of a family that understood the risks of this sugar substitute, did their best to pet-proof their house, but their dog “Zoe” outfoxed them anyway.

“We were gone for less than two hours. During that time Zoe went into our closet and got a sealed plastic container of Spry gum (containing xylitol) that was on a shelf.  She somehow removed the lid and consumed about half the gum.  When we got home we saw what she had done and knew that xylitol was dangerous.   She showed no signs that something was wrong. We called our veterinarian, who advised us to take her to Emergency Care.  About 1 1/2 hours later we took her. In hindsight, I wish we had taken her right away, but I didn’t realize the urgency.”

“At the hospital vomiting was induced. Zoe was put in ICU where her glucose level was closely monitored and she was given medication to protect her liver. She stayed in ICU for 72 hours. Liver tests taken in the hospital and on follow-up showed that her liver was ok. Zoe seems fine now.”

Xylitol is actually great for people with diabetes and obesity. It improves the strength of our bones and reduces the risk of cavities in our teeth. But in dogs xylitol triggers a spike in insulin release, driving down blood sugar. This can lead to seizures and death, not to mention liver damage.

Read the ingredients labels and you’ll see xylitol in breath mints, candy, toothpaste, peanut butter, and chewable vitamin C. The list is growing. Remember when life was simpler? Yeah, me too.
It was 20 years ago this week when my first Pet Care column appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It’s not a momentous occasion; there’s no need for cards and gifts. I only ask cat owners to refrain from repurposing the Fetch page by placing my picture face-up in the bottom of their litter pans. I know it’s happening when I get a new feline patient who gives me that, “Haven’t we met?” look. The real topper is the cat who swallowed the canary smirk on the owner’s face.