Now chances are you probably haven’t ever heard of the word “xylitol” before your vet told you that your pet had an issue with it unless you are super health conscious or perhaps a nutritionist. This is why we wanted to take a moment and discuss precisely what xylitol is and how it can be hazardous for your dog. Because, like other everyday household items such as chocolate, how our bodies and metabolisms handle certain foods and substances are WAY different from how your dog’s body processes them.
Let’s begin our conversation by first tackling the question…
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar found in some fruits and vegetables and is commonly used as a sugar substitute in many food items, particularly sugar-free gum. The problem is it’s pretty bad for dogs. If your dog has gotten ahold of some, he may have xylitol poisoning. Here’s what to expect of xylitol poisoning in dogs.
Clinical Signs & Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning
Sometimes our dogs get into stuff, and we don’t even know it. If your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms, he could have eaten xylitol behind your back:
- Lack of coordination.
As you can see, these are general symptoms that disorders, diseases, or illnesses could cause. They don’t indicate specific xylitol poisoning (they could be signs of hypoglycemia caused by something else). But you do need to take your dog to the vet with symptoms like these!
The good news is that xylitol poisoning in dogs doesn’t have to be life-threatening or cause long-term damage, but that’s only if you get it treated by the veterinarian immediately! This then begs the question…
“How much before a dog experiences xylitol toxicity?”
If your dog gets ahold of one piece of sugar-free gum, should you worry? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on your dog’s body weight. It would take 50mg of xylitol per pound of your dog’s weight to be dangerous. So, if he’s 10 pounds, then he needs 500mg. But how much is 500mg? That’s a good question. A 45-pound dog would need about nine pieces of sugar-free gum to get hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). More than that could be pretty dangerous.
The problem is…
Do you want to try and calculate your dog’s weight vs. how much xylitol you believe they may have eaten? Particularly when we know that xylitol toxicity does have the potential to be toxic in dogs. If you think your dog has ingested xylitol, call the pet poison helpline (1-800-213-6680), the animal control center, or rush to the nearest open veterinary clinic ASAP! Then your veterinarian does not have time to run tests to see if it is xylitol toxicity. If you have evidence that your dog has eaten xylitol (or something else poisonous), they will immediately begin treatment.
Xylitol Toxicity Treatment
The most common treatment for poisoning such as this is inducing vomiting. This causes the body to rid itself of any more poisonous substance that hasn’t yet been absorbed. Other treatments will commonly involve getting the blood glucose levels back to normal. If your dog has low potassium, then that will be treated too. Your vet will likely start blood work for monitoring at the same time as treatment. There will be post-treatment bloodwork as well.
This brings us to…
Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them. If you feel your pet may have xylitol toxicity (or any other health issue), you will want to have them checked out by a vet ASAP!
An early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering them, but beyond that, diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!
This isn’t as expensive as cancer, but it is a lot considering it’s just because your dog swallowed a pack of gum. If you leave a bunch of sugar-free chewing gum out and your dog eats it, it could become a $500 surprise expense… Ouch! For this reason, we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.
Now will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?
No, probably not. But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?
For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.