Can Puppies Eat Xylitol?

I’ve talked about it many times that you take on a huge responsibility when you adopt a puppy. Once that baby dog is taken away from its mama, it relies on you for everything. Training to become socially adept, exercise to keep them in shape, and, of course, food to feed their growing bodies.  

One of the essential tasks of being a puppy parent is to keep your furry friend safe. That encompasses quite a bit, actually, when you think about it. For example, keeping them safe outside is a vital responsibility so they don’t run out in traffic or get into something that could hurt them. 

A significant part of keeping a puppy safe is knowing precisely what they shouldn’t eat so that you can ensure they can’t, won’t, and don’t eat something that will hurt or even kill them. Removing toxic plants from your home is essential, for example, and getting rid of objects that can hurt them if swallowed. A superball, for instance, can kill a puppy in less than a minute if it gets lodged in their throat. That, as you might imagine, would be genuinely horrible.

One dangerous item more challenging to keep away from your pup than the others is ingredients in the food you give them. Too much salt and fat in their food, for example, can be very unhealthy. I was thinking about this the other day as I was making food for my dogs and remembered the first time I found out about xylitol, An artificial sweetener found in many food items. I remember the first time I Googled “can puppies eat xylitol?” to find out more.

The answer is that, no, puppies can’t eat xylitol because it’s highly toxic and could harm them or, in severe cases, kill them. Indeed, even a tiny amount of xylitol can cause a puppy to have seizures, liver failure, and possibly even die due to a health condition called hypoglycemia, which in layperson’s terms is low blood sugar. 

Now that you know that puppies can’t and should never eat xylitol, I’m betting you have a lot more questions on the subject. What foods use xylitol the most, for example, and what are the symptoms of xylitol poisoning? If yes, please read on. I’ve got the answers to those questions and several more below. If keeping your puppy safe is crucial to you, as I’m sure it is, it’s important information and essential for being a good puppy parent. 

How Much Xylitol is Toxic to Puppies?

It’s difficult to say precisely how much xylitol would be harmful to a particular puppy, but dog experts and veterinarians say that any amount is too much. However, this report from a study about the toxic effects of xylitol in dogs and puppies gives a precise amount. 

Their findings show that if a dog ingests (i.e., eats) greater than 0.1 grams per kilogram of xylitol, they could develop hypoglycemia. If they consume over 0.5 grams per kilogram of xylitol, acute liver failure could result. (Both equal tiny amounts.) The first problem, hypoglycemia, is treatable and has a good prognosis. The second, acute liver failure or hepatotoxicosis, has a guarded to poor prognosis, unfortunately.

As you can see, even a tiny amount of Xylitol can be harmful, and even fatal, or a puppy. That’s why you need to check any type of dog treat you purchase for your puppy to ensure it doesn’t have xylitol (it’s uncommon, fortunately). 

More importantly, check any human food you want to give your puppy as a snack or treat to ensure it doesn’t contain this highly toxic ingredient. That’s a little bit more of a challenge as many food items contain xylitol these days. (it’s a very popular alternative sweetener to sugar.) 

Also, it’s essential that you keep any food items containing xylitol far away from your puppy and out of their reach. Some of the typical food items that would have xylitol include:

  • Peanut butter
  • Many different types of baked goods
  • Breath mints
  • Chewable vitamins
  • Sugar-free desserts of many kinds
  • Toothpaste
  • Cough syrup
  • Dietary supplements of several types
  • Mouthwash
  • OTC medications

What Happens to my Dog if he Eats Xylitol? 

Several things can happen to your puppy if they eat xylitol, and none of them are pleasant, unfortunately. As we saw above, even tiny amounts of xylitol can be problematic for a puppy. one of the first problems is hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, which is similar to what you see in diabetics. However, worse than that are seizures, liver failure, and death in extreme xylitol poisoning cases.

Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs and Puppies. 

You will see several symptoms if your puppy has eaten xylitol. Most of them will start developing and showing within 30 minutes to an hour after eating something containing the artificial sweetener. Also, the first problem that xylitol typically causes is hypoglycemia, so most of the symptoms below are symptoms of hypoglycemia. They include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lack of energy, lethargy, or sluggishness.
  • Problems walking or standing because their coordination is affected.
  • Overall weakness.
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • In extreme cases, your puppy might go into a coma

How to Treat Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs and Puppies

It’s essential that you have your puppy treated quickly if they have eaten something that contains xylitol. Your vet can reduce the toxic effects significantly with speedy medical attention. Your first step is to not panic, of course. Next would be to get your puppy to your local veterinarian as quickly as you can.

They will likely perform some blood work at the vet to determine a course of action and treatment. If your dog has eaten a lot of xylitol, they will probably need to be hospitalized for blood glucose monitoring. Also, to protect their liver and prevent more damage, they will be given dextrose and intravenous fluids along with other medications.

Home Treatments for Canine Xylitol Poisoning

The only decent home treatment I’ve seen for xylitol poisoning in puppies is to rub a small amount of corn syrup or maple syrup on their gums. Either one can help raise their blood sugar levels and help to counteract the insulin that the xylitol releases.

I must stress that this is a temporary fix, and it’s essential you get to your local veterinarian as quickly as possible. Also, we’re talking about a minimal amount of corn or maple syrup. Use your finger and smear it on their gums but do not pour either into your puppy’s mouth. Too much of either corn or maple syrup could significantly worsen the problem and hurt your puppy even more.

When to Bring your Dog or Puppy to the Vet for Xylitol Poisoning

Dog experts, veterinarians, and I, myself, recommend getting your puppy to the veterinarian immediately if you know that they have eaten something that contains xylitol. It’s the best way to ensure your puppy receives the care they need and doesn’t suffer long-term health problems (or die). 

Final Thoughts

Can puppies eat xylitol? The answer is a definite no, as this popular artificial sweetener is highly toxic to puppies and dogs, even in tiny amounts. Protecting your precious puppy from foods that contain xylitol is essential, as well as checking thoroughly to ensure any food, snack, or treat you give them is xylitol-free.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog about puppies and the artificial sweetener xylitol. If you have more questions about the subject or other questions pertaining to puppies in general, please look at my other blogs. I’ve taken a deep dive into many puppy-related topics that would be interesting and informative for a new puppy parent.