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Keys to Health

The Dangers of Xylitol

Xylitol is a sweetener sometimes used in foods, such as some peanut butters and chewing gums. While it is considered OK for humans to ingest, non-primates process Xylitol differently, and it can cause your pet serious harm. In the past five years, the Pet Poison Helpline has received over 1500 calls for Xylitol poisoning.

  • A quick biology review: The pancreas regulates blood sugar levels by releasing insulin.

  • Xylitol doesn't stimulate insulin in humans, but it does - in large amounts, and very quickly - in non-primates. Within ten minutes to an hour, this causes low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, which can be extremely dangerous to your pet.

  • Some brands of gum contain one gram per piece, which means your pet can suffer from severe hypoglycemia after eating only two pieces, and ten pieces can cause liver failure.

  • Symptoms show within 15-30 minutes and include vomiting, weakness, walking like drunk, depression, tremors, seizures, and coma. Immediate medical attention is essential.

  • Read the Ingredients: CAUTION to pet owners who add peanut butter to treats, toys, and other items for dogs: some now contain Xylitol.

  • Contact the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) or your vet right away if you think your pet has ingested any potential poisons, and never assume if HUMANS can eat it, our pets can!