Many people are not aware of this, but if your dog has eaten anything with xylitol, you are dealing with a pet emergency. What is xylitol? It’s a sugar substitute that is used in a variety of sugar-free gums, baked goods, toothpaste, vitamins, etc. While harmless to humans, it can be life-threatening, if not lethal, for dogs.

Dogs are curious by nature. It there is a pack of gum in front of them, they may want to play with it until they see what’s inside. If the gum is packaged in blister packs, that is even more of a challenge to them and they will work feverishly to get the gum out. Especially for dogs with oral tendencies, such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers, a natural inclination to ingest the gum can lead to some severe consequences.

Even the lowest levels of the chemical xylitol in a dog’s system can cause serious issues. Dogs that ingest lower levels of xylitol can develop hypoglycemia, while those that ingest higher levels of the chemical can develop seizures or even liver failure. And it doesn’t take long.

Within 15-30 minutes of eating xylitol, some of the symptoms you may see in your pet include:

  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty walking or moving/weakness

To avoid your pet getting xylitol poisoning, keep all items containing xylitol out of his reach. Even his jumping reach. It’s best if you put all products in locked cabinets. For toothpaste and vitamins, keep them in the medicine cabinet or a locked drawer. Use the pantry in the kitchen for other food products. When in doubt, don’t take the risk. Always assume your curious canine can get into mischief and take the necessary precautions to avoid worst case scenario.

If your pet has ingested xylitol, contact us at East Valley Animal Hospital immediately and notify us that you have a pet emergency. We will want to see your dog right away, so do not delay.