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Could Xylitol — AKA ‘Birch Sugar’ — Kill Dogs That Eat It?

The sugar substitute xylitol, often known as “birch” or “wood” sugar, is present in some human meals and dental merchandise that may be toxic — and even lethal — to canine.

The above declare started circulating on social media in early September 2021 when Snopes readers despatched our crew screengrabs of the beneath meme:

Picture despatched by Snopes Readers

And it’s true. In a public service announcement printed July 7, 2021, the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that xylitol, which is a category of sweetener referred to as sugar alcohol, will be harmful to canine that inadvertently eat merchandise containing the sugar substitute — and in some instances, consumption can show lethal. 

Xylitol is mostly present in sugarless gum, and since it’s low in energy, additionally it is usually used to sweeten sugar-free sweet and dental merchandise.

Martine Hartogensis, a veterinarian on the FDA, famous within the announcement that over the previous a number of years, the company’s Heart for Veterinarian Medication has obtained a number of studies of canine being poisoned by xylitol, with many instances involving chewing gum. A more moderen report was associated to “skinny” (sugar-free) gum.

Different merchandise which will comprise xylitol embrace: 

  • breath mints
  • baked items
  • cough syrup
  • kids’s and grownup chewable nutritional vitamins
  • mouthwash
  • toothpaste
  • some peanut and nut butters
  • over-the-counter medicines
  • dietary dietary supplements
  • sugar-free desserts, together with “skinny” ice cream

Xylitol is deemed secure by the FDA for human consumption — however why is it harmful to canine? That has to do with how our our bodies regulate blood sugar. Blood sugar is managed by the discharge of the hormone insulin from the pancreas. In contrast to in individuals, xylitol stimulates a launch of insulin from the pancreas in canine that’s extra rapidly launched into the bloodstream, making a “potent release” of the hormone from the pancreas. 

“This rapid release of insulin may result in a rapid and profound decrease in the level of blood sugar (hypoglycemia), an effect that can occur within 10 to 60 minutes of eating the xylitol. Untreated, this hypoglycemia can quickly be life-threatening,” famous the FDA.

Like canine, ferrets are identified to develop low blood sugar and seizures after consuming meals that comprise xylitol. Cats then again don’t seem like affected largely as a result of they don’t usually have an urge for food for sweets.

Signs of xylitol poisoning embrace vomiting adopted by decreased exercise, weak spot, staggering, incoordination, collapse, and seizure. Specialists suggest contacting a veterinarian, emergency clinic, or an animal poison management middle if a canine seems to have eaten a product that accommodates xylitol. Signs could not develop till between 12 and 24 hours after consumption, and the animal could have to be monitored.

To stop unintentional ingestion, vets suggest maintaining xylitol-containing merchandise out of attain of canine — particularly those who prefer to sneak meals off of the counters. 

“Check the label for xylitol in the ingredients of products, especially ones that advertise as sugar-free or low sugar. If a product does contain xylitol, make sure your pet can’t get to it,” stated Hartogensis. 

The FDA evaluates studies of issues of safety. Report issues with human and pet meals and treats on the Safety Reporting Portal


Commissioner, Workplace of the. “Paws Off Xylitol; It’s Dangerous for Dogs.” FDA, July 2021.,

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