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Xylitol Poisoning in Cats and Dogs

By March 21, 2018 March 29th, 2018 Small Animal

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a natural, sugar-free sweetener. It is commonly found in gum, mints, food like jelly and pudding, mouth washes, human toothpastes, vitamins, peanut butter, and fish oils etc.

How Does it Affect Dogs and Cats?

When they ingest xylitol, it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream which results in a potent release of insulin from the pancreas. When the insulin increases that rapidly it cause a profound decrease in the level of blood sugar. The effect that occurs will happen within 10 – 60minutes of ingestion.

Depending on the amount ingested, it can affect them differently. If only a small amount is ingested, it can cause an acute and life-threatening low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia. If a larger amount is ingested, it can result in acute liver necrosis and failure.

As little as a stick of gum could be toxic to a small dog. If you suspect any amount of ingestion, call a vet clinic immediately.  Effects of xylitol can be seen as early as 30 minutes after ingestion.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Collapse
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors and/or Seizures
  • Yellow mucous membranes
  • Black-tarry stools
  • Coma
  • Death

How Veterinarians Treat

There is no antidote for xylitol, although symptomatic treatment is necessary and beneficial. If you suspect that your pet has ingested xylitol, call your veterinarian as soon as possible! The veterinarian will work fast and aggressively with treatment. Treatment can include: inducing vomiting, monitoring of blood glucose and liver values, IV fluids, sugar supplementation, and liver protective medication.

Never hesitate to call, our team at Coventry Animal Hospital are here to help.

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