Xylitol Poisoning in Cats and Dogs

Have you ever heard of xylitol? It’s one of the most dangerous—and common—pet poisons out there, and it might already be in your home! Here, your Orangevale, CA vet answers your questions.

What Exactly is Xylitol?

Xylitol is an artificial sugar often used in candies, gum, toothpaste, certain baked goods, and other products. Humans can process the substance without issue, but xylitol is highly poisonous for our animal companions!

How Much Xylitol Does it Take to Cause Issues?

As little as a stick and a half of gum or a few pieces of candy that are sweetened with xylitol can cause problems in a small pet who weighs about 10 pounds or less. That’s why xylitol is so dangerous—if a pet manages to get their paws on an entire pack of xylitol-sweetened chewing gum or tube of toothpaste, serious symptoms could start to appear quite quickly!

What Symptoms Does Xylitol Cause?

The symptoms of xylitol poisoning include lethargy, discoordination, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, collapse, and—without quick treatment—seizures and even death. These symptoms can start to appear in as little as 30 minute after your pet ingests the product containing xylitol, although this timeframe can vary depending on how much of the toxin your pet has eaten, as well as your particular pet’s size and weight.

What Should I Do If My Pet Has Ingested Xylitol?

If you know or suspect that your four-legged friend has eaten a product that contains xylitol, it’s important to act fast. Rush your pet to the nearest veterinary emergency room; try calling ahead if possible to let the staff know that you’re on your way.

At the vet’s office, your pet’s stomach may be flushed in order to rid the system of the toxin. Activated charcoal may also be administered; this helps to stop your pet’s system from absorbing more of the poison. After your pet has been stabilized, supportive therapies like fluid replacement or even oxygen supplementation might be necessary.

How Do I Prevent Poisoning?

Clearly, it’s easier to prevent poisoning by xylitol in the first place, rather than deal with it after it’s already occurred. This is as simple as restricting your pet’s access to any product containing xylitol; as a general rule, keep all sweets, baked goods, and other products like toothpaste far out of your pet’s reach.

Want more information on xylitol? Contact your Orangevale, CA veterinarian.

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