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As an avid gum chewer (it keeps me from biting my nails), dog owner, and veterinarian, I am alarmed to see the increasing trend of toxicity secondary to dogs inappropriately consuming sugarless gum containing Xylitol. The Animal Poison Control Center database indicates 150 cases in 2007, all related to the consumption of Xylitol based sugar-free gum.
Xylitol is a crystalline sugar alcohol used to replace sugar as a sweetener in various food products, including chewing gum and candy. Xylitol mimics sugar’s effect on the body, causing release of insulin from the pancreas and reduction in blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Dogs quickly absorb Xylitol from the digestive tract, causing a sudden and strong release of insulin with secondary hypoglycemia.
A very small amount of Xylitol can potentially cause significant toxicity in dogs. A mere 1 to 2 pieces of chewing gum containing Xylitol can be potentially toxic to a dog weighing 20 pounds or less.
Symptoms of Xylitol toxicity include
(but are not limited to):
Loss of coordination (Ataxia)
If untreated, Xylitol toxicity can also lead to liver failure, blood clotting abnormalities, and death.
As this toxicity is completely preventable, please keep all Xylitol containing products out of your home if you have pets. In my clinical practice, I have seen cases of Xylitol toxicity after a dog consumed sugar-free gum from a purse belonging to his owner’s friend, so be aware that this toxicity can occur even if you keep a Xylitol-free household.
Should you suspect or are aware of your pet having consumed a product with Xylitol, contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (AAPCC) at 888-426-4435. It is worth the $65 consultation fee to start a case file with a board certified veterinary toxicologist to determine the best treatment.
Copyright of this article (2011) is owned by Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr. Patrick Mahaney. Opinions in this article are not necessarily those of the AKC Canine Health Foundation.
The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) and our corporate alliance, Zoetis, are pleased to bring you the third installment in a podcast series devoted to canine reproduction education for pet owners, breeders, and veterinarians.
In this podcast Dr. Kit Kampschmidt of Brittmoore Animal Hospital in Houston Texas, discusses cryopreservation of canine semen. Dr. Kampschmidt received his DVM from Oklahoma State University in 1983. He has developed a special interest in canine reproduction and semen cryopreservation. He is a nationally recognized authority in these areas and serves as a consultant to other veterinarians through the Veterinary Information Network. He has been an invited speaker for national veterinary meetings, state and local veterinary associations, and many breed clubs. He has trained veterinarians from all over the United States and the world in canine semen freezing and artificial insemination techniques. He is a member of the Harris County Veterinary Medical Association, Texas Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, and American Animal Hospital Association, and currently serves on the board of directors for the Society for Theriogenology.
A transcript of this podcast is also available for those who prefer to read the interview.
Visit the Zoetis canine reproduction webpage for more information and resources.