Danger to Dogs - Xylitol / Sorbitol

In July 2007 our dog had a seizure that we could not explain. Of course it’s on a weekend evening and we rushed her off to the emergency animal hospital in Myrtle Beach. We thought maybe she had been poisoned. Her symptoms were sudden a few minutes earlier she had been playing like a puppy then later she could barely walk; was lethargic and yelping in pain from the slightest touch.

Just this weekend we have finally figured out what happened. I had heard on the news in Houston the other day that Sorbitol and Xylitol sweeteners are poisonous to dogs. I heard the blurb on the news and decided I needed to read up on this since I chew gum that is sweetened with these sweeteners.

I first read an article that was in USA Today back in 2007. Then I did more research and found the AVMA had posted a warning back in October 2006. Further research lead to a blog by a Veterinarian in Miami who had written an article about the dangers of Xylitol and dogs.

The symptoms Sheeot had were exact to what has been described in all my reading. It was quick to come on and it was very serious. After reading all this I realize that she is lucky to be alive. I feel bad that I didn’t know about this sooner.

I would have thought with us giving the exact descriptions of this to the Vet they would have at least been prompted to ask us if we had Altoids or Sugar Free products where the dog could get them. This information had been published less than a year prior in the JAVMA which I would hope the veterinarian would have read (I guess not).

All the articles I have read indicate that Dogs bodies don’t process Xylitol like we humans. The dog can develop a sudden drop in blood sugar, loss of coordination, become lethargic and have seizures. The effect is rapid and can come on in as little as half an hour or start up to 12 hours later. The JAVMA states that you need to act swiftly and get your dog to the Veterinarian.

Many of the articles tell you to call the Animal Poison Control Center. There is a $60 cost for support and you are told to pay it because they will assist the Veterinarian once you get there. As of this weekend I have programmed the Animal Poison Control Center number - 888-426-4435 into my cell phone. I have also posted it at the house.

Please spread the word to your family and friends of the dangers of sugar free products to dogs. Don’t assume they are informed – trust me I had no idea until recently. I can't even say your Veterinarian will catch it quickly enough. Ours never figured it out.

Looking back I’m sure our dog picked up an Altoid or some gum I may have dropped near my recliner. She’s not above helping herself to things out of the trash can.

So this is my Public Service Blog.

Listed below are the links just in case you can't get the links above to work.

USA Today - http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-03-18-xylitol-sweetener_N.htm
AVMA - http://www.avma.org/onlnews/javma/oct06/061001b.asp
Animal Poison Control Center - http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/
Dolittler Blog - http://www.dolittler.com/2006/10/27/pet.vet.dog.cat.vs101.10.27.06.html


Jamqueen said...

Thanks for the reminder--I did know this, but the update is good! We try not to let the dog & cats have any human food, but things get by you sometimes..

Sue said...

Wow - I did not know that. I remember that episode with Sheott - glad to know she wasn't poisoned by malcontents in the neighborhood. Scary that a candy or gum could do that. All our animals are used to little tidbits of cookies, cakes, donuts when we drink our evening coffee in the living room - but those aren't sugar-free, they are sugar-full (still not good for them, certainly not their teeth - but tell them that). Thanks for the info!

Life's a Beach! said...

That's so scary. Saby spends a lot of her time vacuuming the floor for me, so I need to be more careful!

Bennie said...

Ann - I wish I could keep Sheeot from eating human food but I don't think you or a troop of folks could keep her from it. She's just like Beck's baby Saby who is always hoovering aroudnd to find a treat.

Sue - isn't it strange that over 2 years later I finally figure out what happened an no thanks to the vet. I really had no idea this was as dangerous to dogs as it is. I'm glad to know now and I really wish I'd have known a lot sooner. I'm just lucky to know now.