Xylitol Poisoning in Cats and Dogs

March is Poison Prevention month. Are you aware of a potential pet poison already in your home? Xylitol poisoning is very dangerous. Learn more below from a Temecula veterinary professional.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is an artificial sugar that is often used in candy, gum, and baked goods. It’s touted for humans because of its lower calorie count and dental health properties, but it’s a known toxin for pets. Cases are more often recorded in dogs, but it’s likely because cats don’t go out of their way as often to nibble on things.

What are the Symptoms of Poisoning?

A pet’s pancreas confuses xylitol with real sugar and releases insulin as a result. This causes your pet’s blood sugar to drop dramatically, leading to weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, spasms, and seizures. Left untreated, xylitol poisoning can lead to coma and even death. Symptoms usually present within 30 minutes of ingestion.

How Much Xylitol Does it Take to Poison a Pet?

It doesn’t take a lot of xylitol to poison a pet. For small pets that weigh 10 pounds or less, as little as a stick and a half of xylitol-sweetened gum can cause symptoms. Many pets, especially voracious dogs, may decide to munch on an entire pack of gum, so you can imagine how dangerous it can be. As soon as you suspect or witness your pet ingest any product containing xylitol, contact your veterinarian and rush your pet to the emergency room.

What’s the Treatment?

Your veterinarian will most likely induce vomiting to rid the stomach of the toxin, or give activated charcoal to stop the poison’s absorption. IVs and fluid therapy may be necessary to restore your pet’s health to normal, and most vets will require follow-up appointments to check on your pet’s recovery.

Can I Prevent Xylitol Poisoning Episodes?

Absolutely. Luckily, preventing episodes of xylitol poisoning is as easy as restricting your pet’s access to products that contain it. Keep candy, gum, and baked goods that are sweetened with xylitol off of countertops and kitchen tables. Instead, store these treats in sealed containers inside closed cabinets.

Your Temecula veterinarian can fill you in on any other questions you may have on treating and preventing Xylitol poisoning—call the clinic today!

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