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Seasonal dangers – Xylitol

Although Xylitol is present all year round, it definitely merits special mention at Halloween and Christmas. These are times when treats are often both in abundance, and left lying around as the holidays make us feel a bit more carefree.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol which is used as a low-calorie sweetener in drinks, sweets, chewing gum and many other foods. Often it won’t be mentioned in the ingredients by name and may just be refereed to as E967. Recently Starburst Chewing Gum made the news as the high levels of Xylitol in them were causing rapid onset of symptoms in dogs who had eaten them.

Although research seems to show no evidence for negative effects in cats, Xylitol can have severe health implications for dogs. The two main consequences of Xylitol toxicity in dogs are hypoglycemia and liver necrosis – both of which can be fatal.

If you suspect that your dog has ingested something containing Xylitol, you should seek veterinary advice immediately. Prompt action is required as the effects can take hold within 30 minutes.

Vets can download our Guidelines to Xylitol Toxicity (along with many other free practice resources) from our Vet Resource Library.