Xylitol has recently become popular in many diets. It is a sugar-like compound, but its consumption does not cause a sudden or large increase in blood glucose levels. At the same time, it is sweet. As a result, it is used in many foods, and toothpaste and is also available as a product for use in the kitchen. For humans, xylitol is harmless, but for dogs, it is highly toxic.
Popularity of xylitol
Xylitol has become increasingly popular recently. It has a low glycemic index, which means that after eating it, blood glucose levels rise slowly. In humans, xylitol does not trigger insulin production and can be used by our cells directly as an energy source. In addition, xylitol has the property of inhibiting the growth of bacteria in the mouth. This makes it an ideal sweetener in the human diet.
Metabolism of xylitol in dogs
Xylitol for a wide variety of animals is not toxic, with no adverse effects observed in sheep, rats, rabbits or cows. In dogs, xylitol is absorbed very quickly into the blood and causes insulin production. Insulin very quickly leads to a reduction in blood glucose levels. This in turn causes hypoglycaemia, which can be life-threatening. The effect of xylitol is particularly dangerous when the dog has not simultaneously eaten other carbohydrates to replenish blood glucose levels.
Hepatotoxicity of xylitol
In addition to directly affecting insulin levels in dogs, xylitol also affects their liver. Depending on the amount of xylitol consumed, the activity of liver enzymes increases. Large amounts of xylitol can even lead to liver necrosis and complete liver failure.
Symptoms of xylitol poisoning
After ingestion of xylitol, dogs first experience vomiting. This is followed by hypoglycaemia from 30 minutes to 48 hours after ingestion.
Hypoglycemia can be diagnosed by:
- Suddenly appearing apathy,
- Lying down,
- Loss of consciousness.
- If the liver is also affected, yellowing of mucous membranes may occur.
Treatment of xylitol poisoning
In the case of xylitol poisoning, it is important to determine how much of this compound the animal has eaten. This allows the doctor to predict what symptoms the dog may show and over what period. At lower doses, there is usually no liver damage.
If the dose was low, treatment is usually limited to regular monitoring of blood glucose levels during the first 72 hours after xylitol ingestion. If hypoglycaemia develops, intravenous glucose administration is necessary. If we know that the dose of xylitol was high it is also necessary to treat the liver and monitor its condition through biochemical blood tests.
Prevention of poisoning
Xylitol is becoming increasingly popular, so it is worth paying attention to what products we use it in. Remember to always keep them out of the reach of your dog. We should also make everyone who comes into contact with our pet aware of how dangerous xylitol can be for dogs, as many people are simply not aware of this.