Toronto Veterinarians - Pet Wellness Network


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Contact Willowdale Animal Hospital

Open 24 Hours, Year Round

256 Sheppard Ave. West
Toronto, ON M2N 1N3
(416) 222-5409

How many of us either have a dog that eats everything in sight, or at least knows of someone who does? It is not uncommon for many dogs to quickly grab some random object and swallow it before we have a chance to stop them, let alone get it back! Here is one substance that you definitely don’t want your pup to get a hold of. Many gums contain a substance called Xylitol. Xylitol is a commonly used naturally occurring sugar replacement that can be found in many oral care products, medications and foods. Common products containing xylitol include sugar-free gum, candies, baked goods, cough syrup, vitamins, mouthwash and toothpaste. It has become quite popular due to it’s low glycemic index and ability to aid in oral health. Although it is safe for human consumption, it is extremely toxic for dogs!

After the ingestion of just a small amount of xylitol, it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream resulting in a potent release of insulin. This can result in a rapid and life threatening decrease in blood sugar, which occurs very quickly after ingestion. At higher doses, liver failure can be the end result. This can occur after eating as little as one stick of gum for some dogs!

The best way to keep your dog safe is to make sure that all product containing xylitol are safely out of reach of your furry friend. Should your Fido happen to get a hold of a product containing xylitol, call your veterinarian immediately and provide them (if possible) with the package information in order for them to determine how much of the substance has been ingested. Do not induce vomiting (unless directed by your veterinarian), as for dogs that are already hypoglycemic, this can make matters worse. Symptoms can start after only 15 minutes post ingestion and include vomiting, weakness, staggering, lethargy, tremors, seizures and even coma in the most severe cases.

Your veterinarian will want to admit your pet to the hospital and start treatment immediately. This usually consists of IV fluids containing dextrose (sugar) and sometimes drugs that can help to protect the liver. They will also want to check certain blood parameters frequently in order to assess the severity of the toxicity and monitor your pet’s treatment progress.

The prognosis is good for dogs that are treated immediately, however if liver failure, coma or bleeding disorders develop, the prognosis can be very poor.

Not many people are aware of this common toxin – so spread the word to all your dog loving friends out there! You just might save a life!

And that’s your Doctor’s orders,

From the Pet Wellness Network Veterinary Family

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