Xylitol is a sugar substitute that you can find in many foods and products. But while it’s OK for humans, xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs.
Even small amounts of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure or even death in dogs. The higher the dose ingested, the greater the risk of liver failure complications.
So today I want to talk about why xylitol is bad for your dog and what to do if your dog eats it.
Where Xylitol Is Hiding?
Xylitol’s popularity has increased dramatically in the last few years. Manufacturers usually extract xylitol from birch trees, corn fiber, hardwoods and other vegetable matter. It’s then made into a white powder that looks and tastes like sugar. It’s about as sweet as sucrose but contains about two-thirds of the calories.
The most common source of xylitol poisoning reported to the Pet Poison Helpline is sugar-free gum. But as xylitol is becoming more popular and is in more and more foods, we all have to be on alert. Many dogs find these foods appetizing and many of our best friends practice the art of stealth food burglary.
- Drink powders
- Cough drops and syrups
- Instant coffee
- BBQ sauce and ketchup
- Candy and chocolates
- Chewing gum and mints
- Peanut butter, jam, pancake syrup
Why Xylitol Is Bad For Your Dog
Xylitol doesn’t stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas in humans. But in dogs it’s a different story.
When a dog eats something containing xylitol, it’s quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. This causes a potent release of insulin from the pancreas. This rapid release of insulin results in a profound decrease in the level of blood sugar (hypoglycemia). And it can happen within 10 to 60 minutes of ingestion. Untreated, this hypoglycemia is often life-threatening.
Worst of all … there’s no antidote for xylitol toxicity.
The prognosis is good if you treat your dog before symptoms develop. It’s also good for dogs who develop uncomplicated hypoglycemia that’s reversed rapidly. But if liver failure or a bleeding disorder develops, the prognosis is generally poor. Most dogs who develop liver problems never make it.
If that wasn’t bad enough, some peanut butter now contains xylitol as well!
Symptoms Of Xylitol Poisoning In Dogs
Signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs include:
- Loss of Coordination
Glutathione To The Rescue
The first and most important thing to do is give glutathione. Glutathione is an antioxidant that exists in every cell. It protects the cell’s tiny but important engines called mitochondria. This little protein contains three amino acids and is the king of all antioxidants in the body. Without it, cells would disintegrate from unrestrained oxidation.
More familiar antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E, have short life spans. Glutathione has the ability to bring back spent antioxidants from the dead and even recharge itself.
Doctors even call it the master antioxidant. That’s because all other antioxidants depend on glutathione to function properly.
The body’s organs can heal themselves with a little help from their friends (in this case the antioxidant glutathione).
Glutathione is the most important, abundant, active and powerful of the antioxidants. Over-the-counter antioxidants wouldn’t work without the glutathione created in your dog’s cells.
When your dog is poisoned with xylitol, glutathione can help protect the liver. (If you remember, liver failure is a major contributor to poor prognoses.) The highest level of glutathione exists in the liver. It’s no accident that the liver is the major organ of detoxification and desperately needs its glutathione to stay healthy.
The Way You Deliver Glutathione Matters
The thing about glutathione is that it’s very poorly absorbed when taken orally. And when there’s no time to waste, that’s a huge problem.
A dog was disintegrating from unrestrained oxidation. He had to get glutathione to quickly protect and regenerate his necrotic liver.
The dog’s owner ran to a compounding pharmacist. They made up a form of glutathione that the owner could give to the dog intramuscularly. The emergency service in the hospital agreed to administer it. The change was dramatic.
The patient perked up and his liver enzymes began to go down. We also put him on several homeopathic remedies for the liver, including …
It’s important to note that this patient was initially given glutathione orally, as is standard treatment. But there was a possibility it would not have worked. That’s because the precursors convert into glutathione in the liver.
But his liver was in a double bind because its own cells were rotting and dying. The liver needed glutathione to repair itself but the liver was too sick. It wouldn’t have been able to convert the precursors the dog had orally. That’s why your dog needs glutathione intramuscularly. It can also be administered intravenously, but the dose was all the way in California … and there was no time to wait for shipment!
… After The Treatment
Soon after treatment, the patient went home and was eating on his own and beginning to enjoy his walks again.
His liver levels were normal but he still had elevated kidney levels, meaning he was too acidic. Both the kidneys and liver work much more efficiently in an alkaline environment (up to 40 times more efficiently). The patient went on a vitamin C Intravenous drip to create alkalinity in his body and his kidneys responded and healed.
Xylitol becoming more and more common in foods. We should all remember glutathione is there, in case of emergency. Most compounding pharmacies can prepare this for you as an intramuscular solution.
But because prevention is the best medicine, I recommend storing items made with xylitol in a dog-proof location. After all, our canine friends love a delicious cupcake just as much as we do!