Xylitol seems to be popping up in more and more products lately and for good reason. It's a natural sweetener with a lower glycaemic index than sugar and is considered to have antibacterial properties. It's often found in baked goods, gum and toothpaste. You may also notice it as an ingredient in sugar-free or low-sugar sweets that are marketed toward diabetics. Xylitol is, however, not good for dogs. In fact, it's poisonous to dogs and can cause them to experience liver failure as a result of causing a rapid drop in their blood sugar levels. As xylitol is showing up in more products, many of which a curious dog may find quite tasty, it's important to be aware of the signs of xylitol toxicity.
Signs of Xylitol Poisoning In Dogs
Signs of poisoning are quick to appear after your dog ingests xylitol, and it will be apparent that there is something very wrong with your dog. Signs to look out for include persistent vomiting, unexplained lethargy and lack of coordination, which may cause your dog to bump into things they are used to having in their surroundings. Seizures or sudden loss of consciousness are also common after ingesting xylitol. Additionally, if your dog starts passing bloody stools, they may have internal bleeding.
How Xylitol Poisoning Is Diagnosed
Prompt diagnosis is key, as untreated poisoning can cause organ failure and death. Your vet will require as much information as you have, so if you know what your dog has eaten and how much they have eaten, make your vet aware right away. Blood and urine samples will be collected for analysis, which will help your vet have a clearer idea about the concentration of the toxin present in your dog's body, the impact on their blood sugar levels and how their liver is functioning.
Xylitol Poisoning Treatment Options
Inpatient care is required to treat poisoning, as your dog will need to be closely monitored. Treatment could include intravenous fluids to support the liver and address dehydration and gastric lavage to quickly remove the xylitol from your dog's digestive system. This involves washing out the stomach with a saline solution that's delivered through a flexible tube; your dog will likely need a strong sedative or general anaesthetic for this procedure. Activated charcoal can also be useful, as this draws toxins out of the digestive system when given as a drink.
If you suspect your dog has ingested xylitol, no matter how small the amount, acting quickly can save their life. Contact your vet or your nearest after-hours animal care service without delay.