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Is Xylitol Bad for Dogs? + Foods with Xylitol & Toxicity Calculator | Pupford

December 18th, 2023

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While many people know that grapes and chocolate are dangerous for dogs, did you know xylitol is poisonous for dogs too?!

The artificial sweetener xylitol can cause major health problems, including death if ingested by a dog.

So, in this article, we’re gonna dive into all things xylitol and pups so you can keep your good boy or girl safe!

DISCLAIMER: If you believe your dog has ingested something with xylitol, call your vet or a pet poison control hotline immediately.

Here’s what we will cover:

  • What is xylitol
  • Why is xylitol poisonous and toxic for dogs
    • Xylitol
  • Symptoms of xylitol poisoning
  • What foods contain xylitol
  • How to keep your dog safe from xylitol

Let’s get right to it. ⬇️

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WHAT IS XYLITOL?

xylitol is a sugar alcohol sweetener that can be deadly to dogs

Xylitol is a low-calorie sugar alcohol that is used to sweeten items like gum, peanut butter, and baked goods (more on that later). It is mostly derived from corn cob and birch bark.

The sweetener xylitol can also be labeled as wood sugar, birch sugar, birch bark extract, or just sugar alcohol.

And while not all sugar alcohols are toxic for dogs, it’s usually best to play it safe and avoid giving your dog items that have ‘sugar alcohols’ as an ingredient.

Related Reading: THC (Cannabis/Weed) & Dogs

IS XYLITOL POISONOUS & BAD FOR DOGS?

While xylitol is touted for its oral benefits and low-calorie sweetness for humans, it is extremely dangerous for dogs.

Xylitol causes a sharp increase in insulin that can lead to hypoglycemia (too low blood sugar). If left untreated hypoglycemia can become fatal to a dog.

Recently, researchers and professionals have found that xylitol can cause liver failure (hepatic failure) as well.

In dogs, other complications that can arise from xylitol ingestion are hypokalemia (low potassium levels) and hypophosphatemia (low phosphorous levels).

HOW MUCH XYLITOL IS DANGEROUS TO DOGS?

a dog visiting the vet after ingesting something with xylitol

Based on experience at the ASPCA APCC, dogs ingesting > 0.1 g/kg of xylitol should be considered at risk for developing hypoglycemia. In comparison, doses of > 0.5 g/kg may be hepatotoxic (toxic to the liver) and more than likely cause death.

As a note, these ranges and figures can change depending on your dog’s health, age (very young or old), activity levels, and other factors.

So, of course, you are probably wondering how to calculate those numbers… ⬇️

Well, it can be difficult. Many products do not explicitly list the amount of xylitol in their product, but let’s show a rough example.

Chewing gum, on average, contains about 0.22-1.0 grams of xylitol per piece!

In this sample calculation, I’ll use my Labrador Retriever Scout. She weighs about 65 lbs or about 30 kg.

So 0.1 g/kg would be about 3 grams of xylitol. To find the g/kg level that can lead to hypoglycemia, take your dog’s weight in kilograms and multiply by 0.1

If one stick of gum is anywhere from 0.22-1 gram, just three sticks of gum could cause our very large dog to develop severe complications.

Anything above that could lead to liver failure and death.

For the hepatotoxic ranges, you would take the same weight in kg (30) and multiply by 0.5.

So, for Scout, it would be about 15 grams of xylitol or roughly as little as 15 sticks of gum.

OR, if you don’t want to run the calculations on your own, just input your dog’s weight into the handy calculator below. 🙂

DOG XYLITOL TOXICITY CALCULATOR

person using a dog xylitol toxicity calculator to see how much xylitol is dangerous for their dog

If you’d like to understand how much xylitol can be dangerous and lethal for your dog, try this quick xylitol calculator. Just enter your dog’s weight in pounds to see general estimates with this xylitol toxicity calculator. 👇

DISCLAIMER: This is for educational purposes only, if you believe your dog has ingested xylitol call your veterinarian right away! This calculator provides estimates only.

As a note, these ranges and figures can change depending on your dog’s health, age (very young or old), activity levels, and other factors.

SYMPTOMS OF XYLITOL POISONING IN DOGS

some symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs are lethargy and weakness

Effects of xylitol poisoning can set in as quickly as 10-60 minutes after a dog ingests xylitol. This will depend on a variety of factors including the type of product ingested.

Here are some symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs:

  • Decreased movement
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Staggering
  • Incoordination
  • Collapsing
  • Seizures

If you think your dog ingested an item with xylitol you should immediately contact your vet.

IS THERE A REMEDY OR TREATMENT FOR XYLITOL POISONING?

There is no “cure” or “antivenom” type solution for xylitol poisoning.

Often a vet will try to induce vomiting, but be aware that you should NOT try this on your own. In some cases, vomiting can actually make the problem worse.

Treatment usually involves intravenous glucose, hepatic support, plasma infusions, and general monitoring and care.

Again, your vet will know the best path forward so contact them if your dog ingests any product with xylitol sweetener.

🐶 Don’t miss out! Sign up for 30 Day Perfect Pup, a 100% free online dog training course. Sign up for free here! 🐶 

COMMON FOODS WITH XYLITOL LIST

some common foods with xylitol are chewing gum peanut butter and even toothpaste

As pup parents, it’s on us to understand which foods might contain xylitol. Because unfortunately, our dogs can’t read ingredient labels. 😉

Here are common foods with xylitol and shouldn’t be given to dogs:

  • Sugar-free gum, Ice Breakers have been said to contain more xylitol than others
  • Peanut butter
  • Nut butter
  • Mouthwash
  • Toothpaste
  • Pudding
  • Syrups
  • Jams
  • Chocolate
  • Chewable multivitamins
  • Nasal sprays
  • Personal lubricants (yes, some brands like Astroglide, etc. use xylitol)
  • Sugar-free mints
  • Sugar-free candy

While this isn’t a comprehensive list, it can help you know what foods might contain xylitol.

Keep an eye out for products and packaging that mention things like:

  • Sugar-free
  • Low-sugar
  • Keto-friendly
  • Vegan-friendly, etc.

That type of labeling can often be a sign that the product is sweetened with a sugar alternative like xylitol.

LIST OF CHEWING GUM BRANDS WITH XYLITOL

Note: This is NOT a comprehensive list, you should ALWAYS check the label. If you are aware of other gum brands that use xylitol please let us know in a comment so we can add it to this list.

Unfortunately, some of the most common xylitol and dog accidents happen with chewing gum.

Here are some common chewing gum brands that use xylitol as an ingredient:

  • Trident
  • Ice Breakers
  • Stride
  • Orbit
  • Pure
  • Mentos
  • Spry
  • Xyloburst
  • Xylichew
  • Tree Hugger
  • Project 7
  • Epic
  • Genius Gourmet

And be aware, the hard gum types with candy coatings (normally in “cup-holder” style packaging) often contain more xylitol than other gums.

Again, please read the label of the gum you buy and keep in your home, car, or bag and be aware of where it is stored.

LIST OF PEANUT BUTTER BRANDS WITH XYLITOL

some peanut butter can include xylitol

Note: This is NOT a comprehensive list, you should ALWAYS check the label. If you are aware of other peanut butter or nut butter that use xylitol please let us know in a comment so we can add it to this list.

While not many brands of peanut butter use xylitol as an ingredient, it’s important to check the label before filling any kong or chew toy with peanut butter.

Here are some common peanut butter brands that use xylitol as an ingredient:

  • Go Nuts, Co.
  • Hank's Protein Plus Peanut Butter
  • Krush Nutrition
  • Nuts 'N More
  • No Cow
  • P28

These peanut butter brands should not be given to your dog.

And again, please please check labels before giving any peanut butter to your pup!

HOW TO KEEP YOUR DOG SAFE FROM XYLITOL

When it comes to keeping your puppy safe from xylitol, there are essentially three routes. Truthfully, a combination of all three is generally the most realistic!

  1. Don’t keep products with xylitol in your home
  2. Safely store xylitol products
  3. Practice behaviors like leave it and general impulse control

#1- DON’T KEEP PRODUCTS WITH XYLITOL IN YOUR HOME

While this may not be realistic in all cases, not having products that contain xylitol in your home, car, or bags is the easiest way to keep your dog safe.

For the majority of households, the most challenging product to avoid is chewing gum and toothpaste.

There are of course some sugar-free gums that do not use xylitol, so opt for those types. And the same goes for toothpaste.

So, check labels before buying!

#2- SAFELY STORE XYLITOL PRODUCTS

any products with xylitol should be safely stored away from a dogs reach

If you do want or need to have xylitol products in your home or car, it’s important to take extra care to ensure they never can be accessed by your pup.

This will look different for each home and dog, but generally speaking here are some ideas to keep dangerous items away from your dog.

  • Put items in very high areas, like on top of a fridge or cabinets
  • Put items behind a door such as a cabinet, drawer, or closet door
  • If your dog is extra mischievous, consider adding baby-safe locks to the cabinets or drawers with dangerous items
  • When you leave your dog home alone, use a crate or completely block off the area that may contain dangerous items

While this list isn’t comprehensive, it hopefully will get your thoughts started on how to keep dangerous items away from your dog.

One personal note here. Even if you believe your dog wouldn’t get into something, know that they still might.

Dogs are opportunistic creatures and sometimes sweet smells (like chewing gum) can be enough to make this claw, chew, or rip through backpacks, boxes, etc. to get what they want.

My dog Buddy (RIP) was famous for somehow finding a backpack deep inside a closet that contained one tiny piece of candy and ripping (or something chewing through) the bag and every item in it just to get to that single piece of candy. Seriously, dogs will find it and get it if they really want to!

#3- PRACTICE BEHAVIORS LIKE LEAVE IT & GENERAL IMPULSE CONTROL

While training and impulse control shouldn’t be your first line of defense against dangerous items, it’s vital nonetheless.

Teaching the “leave it” behavior can truly be life-saving for your pup. With enough practice, your dog’s instinct to leave items alone that fall or are on the ground can become almost automatic.

If you want in-depth training videos & guides training the “leave it” behavior, sign up for 30 Day Perfect Pup. It’s a 100% free online dog training course taught by Zak George covering topics like leave it, leash walking, biting, and more!

Sign up for 30 Day Perfect Pup (free) here!

🐶 Don’t miss out! Sign up for 30 Day Perfect Pup, a 100% free online dog training course. Sign up for free here! 🐶 

Another valuable behavior to practice throughout your dog’s entire life is impulse control. Impulse control is all about rewiring your dog’s brain to not immediately act on their natural impulses.

teaching impulse control can help keep your dog safe from xylitol and other dangerous items

So instead of bursting through doors, they wait to be released.

Instead of crowding you while you prepare their meal, they wait in their place.

Instead of jumping on guests, they sit politely to be greeted.

Instead of snatching food (or dangerous items like gum) off the table, they leave it alone.

I cannot stress enough the importance of teaching your puppy impulse control!

You’ll absolutely LOVE our 21 Impulse Control Games if you’re needing help with getting your dog to stay calm, attentive, and focused.

Learn more about 21 Impulse Control Games here!

Again, training and impulse control should not be your main line of defense for keeping your dog safe from xylitol, but it should be something you continually work on with your pup!

XYLITOL DANGERS FOR DOGS RECAP

a pup parent enjoying their dog’s companionship

To emphasize one more time, xylitol is extremely dangerous and poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts can cause major issues like hypoglycemia, liver failure, and even death.

As pup parents, it’s on us to keep our dogs safe from this dangerous substance. As a quick reminder, here are common items that can include xylitol:

  • Sugar-free gum, Ice Breakers have been said to contain more xylitol than others
  • Peanut butter
  • Nut butter
  • Mouthwash
  • Toothpaste
  • Pudding
  • Syrups
  • Jams
  • Chocolate
  • Chewable multivitamins
  • Nasal sprays
  • Personal lubricants (yes, some brands like Astroglide, etc. use xylitol)
  • Sugar-free mints
  • Sugar-free candy

To keep your pup safe, be sure to keep any products or foods with xylitol well out of reach and secured from any mischievous dog activity.

Have any questions about xylitol and dogs? Be sure to ask in the comments or even share feedback about the article.

If you’re looking for extra training help for behaviors like leave it, jumping, and general impulse control, be sure to sign up for the 100% free class 30 Day Perfect Pup. Sign up here!

🐶 Don’t miss out! Sign up for 30 Day Perfect Pup, a 100% free online dog training course. Sign up for free here! 🐶

ADDITIONAL DOG SAFETY RESOURCES

Some household items can be dangerous for dogs. Learn all about essential oils and dogs here.

We often want to give human food to pups, but we've gotta do it safely. Learn 20 foods dogs can and can't eat here.

Some fruit and veggies are dangerous. Check out which fruits and vegetables are safe for dogs here.

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