Eating products containing xylitol is dangerous for a dog, and even a small amount can cause a severe drop in blood sugar that is life-threatening. In dog households, all xylitol-containing products such as chewing gum and lozenges should always be kept out of reach of the dog.
What is xylitol?
Xylitol is a natural sweetener. It occurs in small concentrations in numerous plants - for example strawberry and banana are natural sources of xylitol.
Symptoms of xylitol poisoning
Although xylitol has positive health effects for humans, such as preventing tooth decay, xylitol is toxic for dogs. The most common symptoms of xylitol poisoning are vomiting, weakness, tremors, stiffness and convulsions. Symptoms usually appear within the first hour and can vary in their intensity depending on the amount of xylitol consumed.
Symptoms of possible liver damage caused by ingestion of xylitol only appear during the first couple of days. Even if your dog doesn't show symptoms right away, you should always contact the vet if they have eaten even a small amount of xylitol.
A dangerous amount of xylitol for a dog
Even if a dog eats only 0.1 grams of xylitol per kilogram of body weight, it can develop hypoglycemia, i.e. blood sugar can drop dangerously low. If a dog eats 0.5 grams of xylitol per kilogram of body weight or more, the risk of liver damage also increases.
What to do if you suspect or know that your dog has eaten xylitol
If the dog eats something containing xylitol, try to find out how much and what the product's xylitol content is. Always contact your vet and follow the treatment instructions you receive.
If more than 30 minutes have passed since eating xylitol, you can help raise the dog's blood sugar as a first aid by giving the dog syrup or honey: 1 tablespoon per 5 kilograms of body weight, either directly in the mouth or mixed with water. If necessary, honey or syrup can also be rubbed directly into the dog's gums, where it is absorbed into the body faster.
If the dog finds already chewed gum on the ground and eats it, the risk of poisoning is very small. Chewed gum usually does not contain dangerous amounts of xylitol for dogs, because xylitol has already dissolved in the human mouth during chewing gum.
Prevention of xylitol poisoning
The best way to prevent xylitol poisoning is to keep all products containing it out of your dog's reach, so being aware of where it's found is crucial.
Xylitol is used as a sweetener in, for example, the following products:
• Chewing gum
• Medicines and vitamin preparations (especially chewable ones)
• Toothpastes and mouthwashes
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