Dogs and Xylitol

by Stacey Ennis Betters

While shopping at a discount warehouse store, I sampled a new energy drink "Eco Drink". It tasted fine...supposedly filled with electrolytes and low in calories...using the artificial sweetener, "Xylitol".

Well, I was in the kitchen making dinner one night and took out a packet to pour into a bottled water. As I poured the powder, some of didn't make it into the bottle and hit the rug on the floor.

My Scarlett, whom had just scarfed down her dinner, was licking the rug by my feet. It didn't occur to me until later that she had licked up the excess powder that had hit the floor.

Within about ten minutes Scarlett was vomiting violently. Every single drop of food that she had just ingested had come up.

She then acted like she didn't have the energy to stand up...she laid down flat with her chin flat against the floor. This is not like Scarlett. She is my super hyper dog, always moving.

I recalled her licking at the floor by my feet when I was in the kitchen. I realized it was only minutes later that I heard my poor dog vomiting. I spotted a trace of the powder from the energy drink still on the floor, but actually most of it was licked clean.

I immediately looked for the ingredients from the drink packet. The first ingredient was xylitol. Scarlett could barely walk and seemed almost disoriented. She kept lying down flat.

This all was taking place on a Sunday night when the only option was to find an all night pet clinic, which I found online. At the same time I also googled "xylitol and dogs" and "toxicity in dogs".

I was horrified. It says that once the dog has ingested the xylitol, toxicity can take place within 30 minutes. It happened much faster with Scarlett. Supposedly, the xylitol causes a rapid release of the hormone insulin.

This causes a sudden decrease in blood glucose. The following symptoms can follow:

  • Weakness
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Seizures
  • Coma and possibly liver dysfunction and/or failure

In reading further, the article noted that your vet may advise inducing vomiting to expel the xylitol, then treatment would involve monitoring the dog closely, supportive care and treating the possible low potassium levels and the low blood glucose.

Now I am completely freaked out. I tryed to get Scarlett outside to see if she would move around and she laid in the freezing cold flat against the grass like she was trying to cool herself.

I felt somewhat better knowing that Scarlett had immediately thrown up and I mean, thrown up every morsel that she had eaten. As much as you hate to see your poor dog vomiting, at least she had expelled the toxic xylitol.

The fact that she had just eaten probably kept the xylitol from going directly into her bloodstream.

I monitored her obsessively for the next three hours. After about 30 minutes, she came back in the house, but immediately laid down. She just seemed completely exhausted, I guess from the sudden decrease in her blood glucose. Then, to my delight, she went to her water bowl and drank and drank. This made me feel much better hoping that the fluid intake would help to flush her system. Once she drank some water, I decided to hold off on seeing the vet until the next morning.

Needless to say, I slept with one eye open next to my precious girl.

The next morning, I was up at the crack of dawn boiling chicken for Scarlett. That is a major treat for her. I figured that the chicken would be easy for her to digest and fairly bland.

She ate it. Hallelujah! We were on the road to recovery.

This could have been a tragedy. I do not condone treating your dog yourself. That is always the job of a veterinarian. I am just happy that this story has a happy ending.

It just makes me wonder if an ingredient in a drink approved for human consumption can have that affect on a living creature...why in the world would I ingest it either. Needless to say, I threw the whole package in the garbage...and not inside my house, but the outside garbage container. I did not want to take any chances that my precious dog, Scarlett, could have any access to it.

Keep any and all artificial sweeteners out of the reach of your precious pets.

The information provided is not intended as medical or veterinary advice. If ever in doubt about any aspect of the health and welfare of your dog, I strongly recommend that you contact your veterinarian.