What To Do If Your Dog Eats Xylitol

Excited for the August 21 eclipse? Visit our Eclipse 2017 page to explore the science, history, and myths of the event. The Curiosity team will be viewing the eclipse alongside NASA in Carbondale, Illinois. Follow us on Facebook for live videos, trivia, and interviews on the big day.

You're probably not planning to feed Fido gum anytime soon. But for avid chewers who keep packs on their desk, in their cabinets, on their nightstand, take note: Xylitol, a sweetener in sugar-free gum, is seriously dangerous to dogs.

Related: Pets Help People Cope With Mental Illness

What Is It?

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that's commonly found in sugar-free gum and other low-calorie foods. Because it tastes sweet but doesn't actually contain calorie-laden sugar, it's a great way to indulge your sweet tooth without adding to your waistline. But it's this very function that makes it so dangerous for dogs: when a dog's pancreas sees xylitol in the system, it mistakes it for real sugar and unleashes a flood of insulin. That insulin causes a dangerous drop in the dog's blood-sugar levels, leading to a series of life-threatening symptoms including vomiting, weakness, staggering, lack of coordination, collapse, and seizures.

Related: Will Your Next Pet Be A Goat Instead Of A Dog?

And If Fido Get It....

In May 2016, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to dog owners after the ASPCA noticed an increase in xylitol-related calls to its poison control center.

Related: Kids With Pets Have Fewer Allergies

If you notice these symptoms in your dog, the first thing to do is get to a veterinarian immediately. In the interim, you can feed the dog honey to raise its blood sugar, but don't force anything. Most importantly, dog owners should keep any sugar-free gum and other xylitol-laden foods out of reach of their pets, just as they would anything that could poison them.

If you liked this you'll love our podcast! Check it out on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, search 'curiosity' on your favorite podcast app or add the RSS Feed URL.