guard against xylitol toxicity in dogs by removing sweets

Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs Can Be Fatal. What About Cats?


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There’s no point in sugar-coating it, xylitol toxicity in dogs can be fatal. While peeps and pets share lots of things (territory, beds, life, you name it) xylitol simply shouldn’t be one of them.

Especially if it’s in chocolate – that’s a double whammy, given chocolate is already toxic to dogs!

For humans xylitol can be convenient. It’s less fattening than sugar and is safe for diabetics. And in fact it’s even a common ingredient in mouthwash. (Sweetener? In mouthwash?! OK, moving on…)

Understanding xylitol toxicity in dogs

So clearly xylitol is fine for people. Why then can it kill a dog? The simple reason is this: When we humans eat the artificial sweetener, it satisfies our tastebuds but our bodies recognise it’s not actually sugar.

For diabetics, that’s a boon, but for dogs, it’s quite different. A dog’s body doesn’t distinguish between the real thing and the fake. In other words dogs think xylitol is sugar. Or rather, their pancreas does.

As soon as a dog eats xylitol, its body begins producing insulin to help process the ‘sugar’. But since there isn’t actually any new sugar entering the blood, the insulin wipes out the dog’s own sugars – leaving the blood, organs and most importantly the brain in a dire situation.

With no sugar, the brain starts shutting down and the cells begin to die. In other words xylitol toxicity in dogs is a big processing miscommunication. The moral of the story is that xylitol products need to be kept out of bounds from our hounds.

Is xylitol safe for cats?

What about cats? Is xylitol as toxic to them as it is to dogs? As toxic as chocolate is to cats? It’s a bit of a grey area. Not because it hasn’t been researched, but because so far the studies aren’t that extensive.

One study with six cats – all healthy and middle-aged – showed no adverse symptoms from xylitol. But a study this size isn’t 100% conclusive for all cats. There are 71 different cat breeds. So it stands to reason the findings of a study of six cats mightn’t be enough reason to feed your feline xylitol sweetened peanut butter.

What you should know is that lots of common household items can be harmful to pets. Read about chocolate toxicity in dogs and cats and other things that can poison your pet.

The good news is, just like xylitol is an alternative to sugar for humans, we’ve got these non-toxic dog birthday cake alternatives for pooch and homemade cat treats for meowser. Yay!

xylitol toxicity in dogs can be fatal

Symptoms of xylitol toxicity in dogs

Dogs are fast to the table and can easily scoop up a doughnut before you get a chance to grab it. Equally dangerous is that this often happens behind our backs. Our dogs routinely snatch up and gobble things without us even getting the faintest hint.

Like that gum some hiker left stuck on a rock along your dog-walking route, for example!

This means xylitol toxicity in dogs can happen without you knowing it. If you see any of the following symptoms, your dog may have xylitol poisoning.

  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Staggering
  • Swaying
  • Dragging feet
  • Loss of control
  • Vomiting

On that last note, seizures can be terrifying and life-threatening. If you have a dog breed that’s prone to epileptic seizures, having ample knowledge is useful. It helps you be understanding and caring for your pup in their moment of need. Read about Beagle epilepsy for fast facts about the condition.

And then read our article on accidental ingestion in pets, which is such a large percentage of our pet insurance claims.

This video shows how easily xylitol toxicity in dogs can happen:


Xylitol toxicity in dogs is an emergency. You need to act fast, so get your pup to the vet immediately.

If your dog can manage it, feeding them honey can help reduce their dangerously low sugar levels. Your vet will administer insulin regulating medicine via a drip to stabilise your dog’s condition.

If this is done soon enough your pooch has a good chance of returning to their regular perky self. Sadly, a dog that consumes xylitol and isn’t treated quickly can die. When faced with xylitol toxicity in dogs, the last thing you want to do is think about your finances. Acting quickly can save your dog’s life.

This is why having a reliable dog insurance plan can make the world of difference.

PD Insurance can cover emergencies, accidents, medication and surgery plus much more! Your pet’s plan is your safeguard against things that will happen and things that could happen. It’s also fast, affordable and easy to use.

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