Have you heard of Xylitol?

It is a natural sweetener and is present in many fruits and vegetables. It has many benefits – 40% fewer calories than sugar, virtually no effect on blood sugar levels and reduces the harm done by bacteria. It is therefore widely used, not just in food but also in various human medicines including some throat lozenges, nicotine gums and indigestion relief tablets. It is also popular as a sugar substitute for use in cake and biscuit baking.

However, unlike other sweeteners, xylitol is very dangerous if eaten by dogs and can be toxic at low levels. The calls we receive most frequently are about sugar free chewing gum which contains huge amounts of xylitol. Just one piece could be a problem for a small dog and potentially make it very ill.

In dogs, if a toxic amount of xylitol is eaten, it causes a rapid drop in the animal’s blood glucose levels (i.e. blood sugar levels) and can also cause liver damage. Affected dogs often become unwell very quickly, typically within an hour. The dog may vomit, become wobbly, weak and depressed and in severe cases may start having fits/convulsions.

Animal PoisonLine’s top tips to prevent Xylitol poisoning:

  • Be sure to check the ingredient labels on foods and medicines for the presence of xylitol (E967)
  • Keep any xylitol containing foodstuffs or medicines out of sight and out of reach of all dogs
  • Remember that a handbag is not a safe or secure place to keep foods or medicines away from dogs


  • Be aware of items delivered through the post that may contain xylitol and that your dog may be able to get a hold of

If you are concerned that your dog or any other pet may have eaten a product containing xylitol and would like to know if it needs to be seen immediately by a vet call Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509000. One of our veterinary poisons specialists will be able to tell you if the amount is enough to cause poisoning. We are always here 24 hours a day to help you and your pets.