I know that many of you already are well aware of the risks of xylitol
(an artificial sweetener used in diabetic foods, mints, chewing gum,
sugar free pudding, jello, etc.) when it comes to our dogs, but
thought this could serve as a reminder... I almost lost 2 of my girls
I had a friend over yesterday evening, and (without thinking) she put
her purse on the ground, and we ended up chatting in another room for
an hour or two. When we returned to the room in which she placed her
purse, I noticed, to my absolute horror, a *shredded* Orbitz gum box
torn to oblivion all over the floor.
I am well aware of the risks of xylitol ingestion with dogs (as little
as 2 pieces of gum can cause death in a 20 lb dog). I immediately
grabbed my dogs and smelled their breath - the only one with the minty
fresh breath... Izzy, my 10 lb female tri puppy. In a panic, I
accosted my friend as to EXACTLY how much gum she had left in the
package - she thought 3 or 4 pieces. Oh my god.
I immediately induced vomiting (with hydrogen peroxide) and Izzy
vomited violently 4 times - very minty smelling vomit, with small
chunks of the gum. I then rushed both her and Darby (my 3 yo Bl girl -
the only other one with access at the time - she didn't have minty
breath, but I wasn't about to take any chances) to UC Davis for blood
glucose monitoring and treatment.
By the way, for those who don't know, xylitol causes mass insulin
release in dogs, leading to severe, acute hypoglycemia. Dogs can show
symptoms in as little as 20 minutes, or as late as 12 hours: ataxia
(staggering gait), depression, lethargy, confusion, seizures & death.
Even if they survive the hypoglycemia, many dogs experience liver
failure and death 3-4 days later. There is no antidote or "cure." Your
only option is to try and stay ahead of it by giving mass amounts of
glucose to combat the effects of the xylitol until it finally
metabolizes out of their system in 12-24 hours. Also, to check liver
enzymes a few days later to see if your dog is experiencing fatal
liver failure - no real cure or treatment, just supportive care and
BOTH Darby's and Izzy's blood glucose levels were shockingly low - in
the mid-50s (so, yes... clearly they both got some gum). We
administered an IV bolus of fluids/dextrose, and because of my
veterinary background, they allowed me to take them home... buying a
glucometer at a drug store en route (this is around 3am at this
point). By the way, they said that if I hadn't induced vomiting with
Izzy when I did... immediately after ingestion, she probably would be
dead right now.
So, for the next 24 hours, I am giving "supportive care:" 10mls of
Karo syrup orally mixed with a little food to each dog every HOUR, and
re-checking blood glucose and giving SQ fluids every 4 hours.
So, it is now 15 hours later, and after 15 "doses" of treatment, they
really haven't improved, but are hanging in there. They both have BG
levels that vary between 57 & 70 (normal is 90-130). Fortunately, they
are not showing any clinical signs of hypoglycemia (staggering,
confusion, seizures, etc). Yes, the glucose hasn't improved, BUT at
least the numbers aren't dropping, and they are acting "fairly" normal
(albeit a bit lethargic & depressed). In theory, the xylitol should
completely metabolize out of their systems in 24 hours. So, as long as
I can keep ahead of it with the karo syrup, we should be OK with the
hypoglycemia side of things.
My biggest concern though, as was in the beginning, is hepatic
insufficiency (liver failure). It's sobering to know that a large
number of xylitol intoxications (even with successful immediate
treatment) are fatal within 4 days due to liver failure... it just
completely breaks my heart. I just hope that, between my catching
this IMMEDIATELY, and inducing vomiting IMMEDIATELY, and having them
treated asap, and the fact the the 3 dogs affected are young and
healthy, that we will beat the odds. I will have liver values run
tomorrow and Monday - that's the only way I'll know if they will be
all right. This is scary because people frankly just don't know
enough about xylitol toxicity (and the mechanisms of effect on the
liver), as it is a fairly new problem since xylitol as an additive in
the US is a fairly new thing.
Xylitol tastes just like sugar, but with fewer calories, so there has
been an EXPLOSION of products in the US with xylitol added in the last
6-8 months. By the way, there has also been a parallel explosion of
xylitol-related deaths in dogs during that same period. I've read that
strawberries & raspberries are natural sources of xylitol - who'd have
Now, please understand that I am not posting this as a "pity/feel
sorry for me" post - I posted because if it can happen to me, it can
happen to anyone. I was so surprised that so FEW people knew about
xylitol, I felt that I HAD to post... if this educates even ONE person
to the dangers, and saves ONE dog - I could just never forgive myself
for NOT posting!
If you want to cross-post this experience, please feel free! I have
e-mailed it to my own personal list of dog people. The more people
that know about the dangers of xylitol, the better.
This whole experience completely breaks my heart. What a freak
accident - I don't chew gum, and didn't even THINK about the purse on
the floor - consider this "lesson learned!" No purses on the floor,
EVER, in my house from now on (I mean, how many people keep gum &
mints in their purses?!)! I'm still not sure my girls are going
to be OK, and I will definitely keep the list updated... but PLEASE, I
implore you, keep ANY xylitol-containing foods or gum FAR OUT OF REACH
of your dogs (or preferably, just get rid of them!)!! Just 1
piece/stick can be deadly....
And, if you can spare them, any warm positive thoughts or prayers sent
our way would be highly appreciated. Thank you, from the bottom of my