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Products Sweetened with Xylitol can be Toxic to Dogs

Since July 2003, the Animal Poison Control Center has managed approximately 45 cases of dogs ingesting xylitol-containing products. The center cautions animal owners that xylitol—a sweetener found in certain sugar-free chewing gums, candies, and other products—can potentially cause serious and even life-threatening problems for pets.

According to Dr. Eric Dunayer, consulting veterinarian in clinical toxicology for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, dogs ingesting significant amounts of gum or candies solely or largely sweetened with xylitol may develop a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, loss of coordination, and seizures. “These signs can develop quite rapidly, at times less than 30 minutes after ingestion of the product,” he said. “Therefore, it is important that pet owners seek veterinary treatment immediately.”

Dr. Dunayer also stated that some data appears to point to a possible link between xylitol ingestions and the development of liver failure in dogs. However, he cautions “as there is not yet enough solid information pertaining to the relationship between xylitol and liver failure, it would not be appropriate at this point to draw any firm conclusions.”

Pet owners should avoid offering their animals food meant for human consumption and be especially diligent in keeping candy, gum, or other foods containing xylitol out of the reach of pets. “Typically, the main concerns are with products that contain xylitol as one of the first ingredients,” advises Dr. Dunayer. As with any potentially toxic substance, should accidental exposures occur, it is important to contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for immediate assistance.