Pets and Xylitol

Xylitol poisoning is one of the major dangers to our animal companions, especially with the holiday season in full swing. To learn more about this dangerous substance and how to help your pet avoid the risk, read on as your Cameron Park, CA veterinarian fills you in.

What Exactly is Xylitol?

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener often found in candy, gum, and certain baked goods. It’s fine for humans, and is even linked with improved dental health and lowered calorie amounts. However, xylitol is extremely toxic for pets and should be avoided at all costs. Most xylitol poisoning cases affect dogs, but cats are susceptible as well. (Dog cases are likely more frequent due to dogs’ indiscriminate tastes.)

How Much Does it Take to Poison a Pet?

This depends on how large your pet is and how much xylitol is ingested, but it does not take much xylitol at all to cause serious symptoms. Only a stick and a half of gum sweetened with xylitol can poison a pet who weighs 10 pounds or less.

What are the Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning?

A pet’s pancreas will confuse xylitol with real sugar, and release insulin as a response. The result is a dramatic and sudden drop in blood sugar, which leads to weakness, disorientation, vomiting, diarrhea, spasms, and seizures. If left untreated, coma and death can result.

Typically, symptoms of xylitol poisoning will appear within 30 minutes of ingestion.

What’s the Treatment?

If you see or suspect that your pet has eaten a product that contains xylitol, quick action is essential. Rush your pet to your local veterinary emergency room as quickly as possible, and call ahead to let the staff know you’re coming. Your veterinarian may induce vomiting to rid your pet’s system of the toxic agent, and fluid therapy and a sugar IV are often necessary to return your pet’s fluid levels to normal. In most cases, one or more follow-up appointments will be scheduled to gauge your pet’s progress.

How Can I Prevent Xylitol Poisoning?

Luckily, preventing xylitol poisoning is as simple as restricting your pet’s access to products that contain it. Keep all candy, gum, and baked goods far out of your pet’s reach. Try purchasing products that aren’t sweetened with xylitol to avoid the hazard in the first place.

Would you like more information on the dangers of xylitol? Call your Cameron Park, CA vet today.

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