Xylitol: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention Tips for Your Pet

It’s Poison Prevention Month! Let’s take a closer look at one of the most common and dangerous pet poisons out there: xylitol. Learn more below from your Carolina Forest, SC veterinary professional.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is an artificial sugar substitute often used in candies, gum, certain baked items, and some varieties of toothpaste, among other products. It’s okay for humans to ingest, but it’s a known pet toxin!

What are the Symptoms of Poisoning?

Xylitol can start to cause symptoms in as little as 30 minutes after initial ingestion, although this can vary depending on your pet’s size and weight and the amount ingested. Symptoms include lethargy, drooling, uncoordinated movements, vomiting, diarrhea, and—without prompt and proper treatment—collapse, seizures, and even death.

How Much Xylitol Will Cause a Problem?

In a small pet (10 pounds or less) as little as a stick-and-a-half of xylitol-sweetened gum or a few pieces of candy can cause symptoms. In other words, it doesn’t take much! If a pet manages to get their paws on an entire bag of candy or pack of gum, the results could be disastrous.

What’s the Treatment for Xylitol Poisoning?

If you see or suspect that your pet has ingested a product containing xylitol, it’s imperative that you act quickly. Rush them to the nearest veterinary emergency room, and try calling ahead to let the staff there know that you are coming.

A veterinarian may induce vomiting to rid your pet’s system of the toxin, or they may give your pet activated charcoal to slow the poison’s absorption. Once your pet has been stabilized, supportive measures like oxygen supplementation, fluid replacement therapy, and other methods might be necessary.

How Can I Prevent Xylitol Poisoning?

Obviously, it’s well worth your time to prevent an episode of xylitol poisoning in the first place, rather than having to deal with it after the fact. Fortunately for you, this is as easy as restricting your pet’s access to any and all products containing xylitol. Be sure to store all sweets, like candies, gum, and pastries, inside closed cabinets or the refrigerator. Don’t allow your pet access to the bathroom cabinets where toothpaste may be stored.

Would you like more information on xylitol poisoning and your animal companion? Wondering about other products in your home that may pose a threat? Give your vet in Carolina Forest, SC a call today to learn more.