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The Dangers of Xylitol Poisoning for Dogs

Pet Insurance Australia is issuing an important reminder to dog owners in regard to the popular sugar-free alternative xylitol.

“Even though xylitol is safe for human consumption it can cause serious complications for our pets,” Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia says. “It is also appearing in some products that owners may feed their dogs, such as peanut butter, so it’s very important that pet owners are vigilant when it comes to checking human-grade food before feeding it to their pets.”

As a naturally occurring substance, is it widely used an alternative to sugar in many human foods. However, for dogs, it is highly toxic and can lead to poisoning quickly.

“In very small doses this ingredient can be very dangerous to dogs,” Crighton warns. “The sugar-free trend has seen the increase in many products now containing xylitol rather than traditional forms of sugar.”

Poisoning can develop quickly within 15-30 mins of ingestion and cause hypoglycemia in dogs. Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty walking or standing
  • Weakness
  • Tremors and uncontrollable shaking
In extreme cases this can lead to seizures, coma, liver failure and even death.

In 2018 we saw over 2,000 cases of unspecific poisoning and toxicity from exposure and ingestion,” Crighton says. “This highlights the importance of checking that the unsuspecting products, that our pets are exposed to by accident, need to be limited for safety reasons.”

Understandably this figure will also include other forms of exposure and poisonings.
“In many cases the cause of poisoning will not be confirmed due to the importance of treating the animal quickly to prevent death,” Crighton says. “Many vets will not wait to confirm the cause as rapid treatment is vital.”

Pet owners need to be aware that even a few sticks of gum containing xylitol can cause extreme illness.

“Many pet owners will also use peanut butter in home-made dog treats and training aids,” Crighton warns. 

“Some peanut butters are now switching sugar for xylitol, so we are urging all pet owners to double check the ingredients* before feeding any human grade foods to dogs.”

If you suspect your pet has eaten any amount of xylitol it is important to seek veterinary treatment quickly. Rapid treatment is paramount in treatment. Pets that receive quick treatment before symptoms start, can recover quickly.

“If you use any products that contain xylitol please keep them out of your pets reach and locked away as you would other dangerous products,” Crighton recommends. “If you suspect your pet has ingested any xylitol, seek veterinary treatment immediately.”

MEDIA RELEASE, 7th January 2019

What else to watch out for on Peanut Butter ingredient lists:

Any ingredients containing the letters “xyl”; a synonym for xylitol- 1, 4-anhtdro-d-xylitol, xylite, anhydroxylitol, d-xylitol, xylitylglucoside.

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