Xylitol- The Hidden Poison

Xylitol- The Hidden Poison

Xylitol is a sweetener commonly found in chewing gum.  Xylitol is toxic to pets, causing low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and liver damage (hepatic necrosis).  Now, xylitol is showing up in many new products such as nasal sprays, sleep aids, multivitamins, antacids, stool softeners, prescription sedatives, and smoking-cessation products.  Ingestion of these products present a double risk of poisoning.  Not only is the medication or supplement  itself dangerous, the xylitol within the product is also toxic.

Of even greater concern is that manufacturers are not required by law to disclose the amount of xylitol contained in the product.  Often, xylitol is considered part of the “proprietary ingredients”, “inactive” ingredients, or “other” ingredients.   All foods in the United States list their ingredients in order of quantity with the ingredients in greatest quantities listed first continuing to the last listed ingredient which is of the smallest quantity.

However, for medications and dietary supplements, the order of ingredients is not required to be in descending order.  The ingredients may be alphabetical, misleading consumers to believe that xylitol is present in insignificant quantities.

It is important to realize that just one piece of gum containing xylitol may result in hypoglycemia in a 10 pound dog.  Hypoglycemia may appear within 1-2 hours of ingestion or as much as 12 hours after ingestion.

If you suspect your pet has consumed any potential amount of xylitol, call your veterinarian or 24 hour emergency veterinary facility immediately.  Immediate treatment is to induce vomiting and closely monitor your pet.  If you are unsure if your pet consumed a product containing xylitol or another toxin, do not delay.  Contact your veterinarian or Animal Poison Control at 1-800-548-2423.

Mia Frezzo, DVM


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