Dogs and the Dangers of Xylitol


There are quite a few things that dogs just shouldn’t have, including some well known foods such as, chocolate or raisins. However, there is another, lesser known toxin, which can pose a serious danger to our pets – Xylitol. Holidays4Dogs looks into the dangers of xylitol to dogs.


What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a sugar substitute which poses a real danger to dogs. The product is found in many products including, chewing gum, toothpaste and vitamin tablets. In addition, it is also found in other products advertised as ‘sugar free’.

This includes, sugar free baking ingredients. Replacing sugar with xylitol, may be regarded as a health benefit for people.

However, for dogs, this can pose serious health issues and even death.

What effect does xylitol have on dogs? 

Xylitol can cause poisoning in dogs. Worryingly, it can cause severe symptoms in as little as half an hour –  in some cases, even in less time. If dog ingests the substance it causes an increase in insulin. In turn, this causes a rapid drop in blood sugar levels – otherwise known as hypoglycaemia. Symptoms can vary from vomiting, weakness and overall lethargy, to seizures and total collapse.

With large doses, there can be permanent liver damage, although signs of such damage may not become apparent until several days later. Symptoms of severe poisoning include, vomiting, black stools, jaundice, coma and even death.

Experts believe that as little as 50 mg to the lb can cause hypoglycaemia. 250 mg to the lb, can induce severe liver damage, or death.

What should you do if you suspect your dog has eaten a product containing Xylitol? 

Because xylitol can pose such a danger to dogs, it is crucial to get your dog to the vet straight away. The prognosis very much depends on how much the dog has ingested. Treatment must be rapid. With mild signs, the outcome is usually positive. However, the greater the quantity of xylitol eaten combined with treatment delay, will often result in severe and irreversible liver damage. In some cases, the dog may sadly die.

How will your vet treat a suspected case of Xylitol poisoning?

Your vet will take blood samples straight away to ascertain the level of blood sugars and monitor liver enzymes.

If your dog is not showing any symptoms your vet may induce him to vomit. However you should NEVER attempt this yourself at home. Intravenous fluids may be necessary. In more severe cases, treatment may include plasma transfusions.


Timing is of the essence in suspected cases of xylitol poisoning, but prevention is paramount. Make sure all products containing xylitol are kept well out of reach of your dog. This should include any items marked as ‘sugar free’.

This Holidays4Dogs article is meant as advice only and is not a substitute for veterinary consultation.  If you are concerned about your pet’s health in any way, always seek veterinary advice immediately.