Xylitol and its Effect on Dogs
Although xylitol has minimal side effects and it is not toxic for humans, like many other foods that are not harmful to humans such as grapes, raisins and onions, it can be dangerous for dogs and even deadly.
The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to dog owners about the dangers of xylitol for their pets. The warning states that ingestion of xylitol by dogs can cause low blood glucose levels, seizures, coagulopathy and liver failure. Some of the signs that your dog has been xylitol “poisoning” are depression, loss of coordination and vomiting.
It has been know for quite some time that xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) to dogs. One of the reasons this happens is because unlike the human body that absorbs xylitol slowly and partly, the dog’s body absorbs it 100% and very fast (about 30minutes).
In addition to that, xylitol causes the release of large quantities of insulin which results in low blood sugar levels. The available data suggest that consumption of more than 0.1 g per kgr of body weight can result in hypoglycemia.
A recent published article has provided evidence that xylitol can also cause liver failure to dogs. The exact mechanism has not been identified but there are a couple of hypothesis trying to explain why this happens. One of the hypothesis is that it causes an increased production of reactive oxygen species that damage liver cells. Ingestion of more than 0.5g of xylitol per kgr of body weight can result in liver failure.
Precautions and Treatment
Always be careful and keep xylitol containing products, such as gum or candy, away from your dog.
If you know or suspect that your dog has consumed a a food that contains xylitol, you should contact your veterinarian or Animal Poison Control Center as soon as possible since prognosis is always better with prompt treatment.