Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs

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Xylitol is a sugar substitute in many products, most notable some sugar-free gums and flavored medications.  Xylitol is safe for people (and oddly, cats), but is very toxic to dogs (and probably ferrets).

If your dog has or may have ingested xylitol, call your veterinary team and have your pet examined right away.  Xylitol, even in small amounts, causes an over-production of insulin, which causes a horrendous sugar crash, or, more accurately, hypoglycemia.

hyp/o – low

glyc/o – sugar

-emia – blood

Signs of Hypoglycemia in Dogs

  • lethargy (abnormal tiredness)
  • shaking
  • ataxia (loss of balance)
  • inability to stand
  • seizures

Do not wait for signs to develop!  Insulin release and resulting hypoglycemia begin almost immediately.  Left unchecked, very low blood sugar or liver failure secondary to xylitol toxicity can be fatal.  With treatment, the prognosis is usually good.  The sooner a xylitol toxicity is treated, the better the prognosis.


You are home from the veterinary hospital with a recovering pet, considerably poorer, a bit shaken by the close call and anxious for the recheck appointment, still weeks away, in which you will hopefully learn that there was no long term liver damage.  You rid your home of all xylitol-containing products and warn friends and family of the dangers of xylitol toxicity in dogs.

Alternate Ending

You finish an article on xylitol toxicity and think, “Hmm, that was interesting…I guess.”  You rid your home of all xylitol-containing products and warn friends and family of the dangers of xylitol toxicity in dogs.

May your pets’ health be boring in the best possible ways, and may you never deal with xylitol toxicity in Real Life.

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5 thoughts on “Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs”

  1. Should you induce vomiting if you suspect ingestion of xylitol and/or put something like cake decorating gel under the dogs tongue to support the low blood sugar…especially if it is a long trip to the vet?

  2. We just lost our Kerry Blue Terrier in Nov due to sudden onset diabetes & then pancreatitis. He was totally healthy one day & excessively thirsty the next, then vomited from 10pm until we took him to emergency at 4am. He wasn’t a food hound & didn’t have anything different that we knew of. Does this sound like it could have been something with xylitol? $5000. & 3 days later, he was gone. Of course, he was the most amazing dog we’ve ever had. We have rescued another Kerry & don’t want any repeats, although we don’t generally have things with xylitol around our house. I do have a mother in law who lives here and may have had something.
    Thanks for the info,


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