Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance that is widely used as a sugar substitute. Chemically, it’s a sugar alcohol and, in nature, it’s found in:
- and other hardwood trees and fruits.
Commercially, most xylitol is extracted from:
- corn fiber
- birch trees
- hardwood trees
- other vegetable material
Although it’s been used as a sugar substitute for decades, its popularity has increased dramatically in the last few years. Xylitol is manufactured into a white powder that looks and tastes similar to sugar. It’s about as sweet as sucrose, but contains only about two-thirds the calories.
Xylitol Is Really Bad For Dogs …
While xylitol is OK for humans, it’s 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.
The most common source of xylitol poisoning reported to the Pet Poison Helpline is sugar free gum.
As xylitol is becoming more popular and it’s included in more and more foods, we all have to be on alert as our dogs will also find these foods appetizing and a decent percentage of our best friends practice the art of stealth food burglary.
… And Life Threatening
While xylitol doesn’t stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas in humans, it certainly does in dogs.
When a dog eats something containing xylitol, it’s quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in 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) – an effect that occurs within 10 to 60 minutes of ingestion. Untreated, this hypoglycemia is often life threatening.
There‘s no antidote for xylitol toxicity.
The prognosis is good for dogs who are treated before symptoms develop or for dogs who develop uncomplicated hypoglycemia that is reversed rapidly. If liver failure or a bleeding disorder develops, the prognosis is generally poor. Most dogs who develop liver problems never make it.
To make things worse, some manufacturers are adding this sugar substitute to peanut butter! (However, this is just one of many reasons NOT to feed your dog peanut butter. Click here for more info!)
Glutathione To The Rescue
The first and most important thing to do is give glutathione. Glutathione exists in every cell. It protects the cell’s tiny but important engines, the mitochondria. This little protein made up of three amino acids is the king of all antioxidants in the body. Without it, cells would disintegrate from unrestrained oxidation. Our more familiar antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, have short life spans and glutathione has the ability to bring back spent antioxidants from the dead and even recharge itself.
Because all other antioxidants depend on glutathione to function properly, doctors call it the master antioxidant.
Glutathione is the most important, abundant, most active and most powerful of the antioxidants. None of the over the counter antioxidants would work without the glutathione created in the cells. The highest level of glutathione exists in the liver and it’s no accident that the liver is the major organ of detoxification and desperately needs its glutathione to stay healthy.
The thing about glutathione is that it’s very poorly absorbed when taken orally. And when there is not time to waste, that’s a huge problem.
A (dog) patient had to get glutathione to protect and regenerate his necrotic liver fast as his liver was disintegrating from unrestrained oxidation.
The patients owner literally ran to a compounding pharmacist who made up a form of glutathione that could be administered 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 Aesculus, Ptelia, Chelidonium and Phosphorus.
It’s important to note that although this patient had initially been given glutathione orally, as in standard treatment, it could possibly not have worked. That’s because the precursors are made into glutathione in the liver. His liver was in a double bind because its own cells were rotting and dying. They needed glutathione to repair themselves but they were too sick to be able to convert the precursors the patient was given orally. That’s why the glutathione needed to be administered intramuscularly. By the way, it can also be administered intravenously, but we would have had to wait for it to be shipped from California and there was just not time!
… 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), so the patient went on a vitamin C Intravenous drip to create alkalinity in his body and his kidneys responded and healed.
The body’s organs can heal themselves with a little help from their friends (in this case the antioxidant glutathione).
With 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 foodstuffs made with xylitol in a dog proof location; our canine friends love a delicious cupcake just as much as we do!