Xylitol Toxicity

March 09, 2020

It has come to my attention twice in the last month that xylitol toxicity is much more likely with new products coming onto the market and newer keto recipes for baked goods, so I though it would be a good idea to review the severity of this toxin to your pets.

Xylitol is popular as an alternative sweetener to sucrose (table sugar) because it has fewer calories with the same sweet taste. It is found in a variety of food and non food products including sugar free gum, mints, candy, baked goods, peanut butter, nut butter, protein bars and powders, condiments, toothpaste, vitamins and sunscreen to name a few. Determining the amount of xylitol in a product can be challenging if it is not provided on the product label.

 Xylitol is rapidly absorbed following ingestion. Considerable species differences exist in the systemic response to xylitol. In horse and humans, xylitol does not stimulate insulin release resulting in little to no alteration of blood glucose. In cats, we do not see the toxic response we see in dogs. With dogs, even a small dose of xylitol can induce an exaggerated insulin release resulting in low blood sugars and injury to the liver. 

Ingestion of 75-100 mg/kg of xylitol has resulted in low blood sugar and 500 mg/kg doses have resulted in life threatening liver failure!!! 

To put this in perspective: icebreakers frost mints have 0.3 g or 300 mg of xylitol per mint, so a 3kg dog eating 5 mints could die from acute liver failure and low blood sugar.

Diagnosis and treatment involve immediate bloodwork, IV fluids, ensuring the patient’s blood sugar remains normal and supporting the liver to try to prevent failure.

Please be vigilant when baking with or having sugar free products in the home.


A special thanks to Kate Kerr and Tara Miller for their personal stories and concerns.

Dr. Robin

Come, Sit, Stay, Heal @ RainTree Veterinary Hospital