Xylitol is a class of sweetener known as sugar alcohol. It is found in a number of products we use every day, but did you know it could kill your dog?

Here is a list of just a few items in your home that may contain xylitol.

  • Sugarless gum
  • Breath mints
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Baked goods
  • Peanut Butter

Why is it so dangerous?

Image via FDA graphic by Michael J. Ermarth www.flickr.com/people/fdaphotos/

Blood sugar levels are controlled by the release of insulin from the pancreas. When people consume a product containing xylitol, it does not cause the release of insulin. However, when a dog eats something containing xylitol, it is more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, and may result in a deadly release of insulin from the pancreas.


This swift release of insulin may result in a rapid and profound decrease in the level of blood sugar (hypoglycemia), an effect that can occur within 10 to 60 minutes of eating the xylitol. Untreated, this hypoglycemia can quickly become life threatening.

What are the symptoms to look out for?

Symptoms include vomiting, followed by symptoms associated with the sudden lowering of your dog’s blood sugar such as; decreased activity, weakness, staggering, incoordination, collapse and seizures.

If you think your dog has eaten xylitol, take him to your vet or an emergency animal hospital immediately.

How to avoid xylitol poisoning in your dog

  • One of the easiest things you can do is check the label of ingredients. If it does appear on the label, make sure to store it in a safe place.
  • Only use pet toothpaste for pets, never human toothpaste.
  • If you give your dog nut butter as a treat, check the label to make sure it doesn’t contain it.


Animal Wellness is North America's top natural health and lifestyle magazine for dogs and cats, with a readership of over one million every year. AW features articles by some of the most renowned experts in the pet industry, with topics ranging from diet and health related issues, to articles on training, fitness and emotional well being.