The FDA issued a notice in mid-February cautioning consumers about the risks of consumption of xylitol by dogs and ferrets. Xylitol, a sugar alcohol, is a common ingredient in sugar-free products, such as sugar-free candy, chewing gum, baked goods, and oral hygiene products. It is available for purchase in bulk bags for use in home baking. Xylitol also is an ingredient in many over-the-counter human drugs, such as chewable vitamins and throat lozenges and sprays.
When a pet eats a product containing xylitol, severe toxicosis can result within 15 minutes. Ingestion of xylitol results in an insulin spike in non-primate species, which can result in severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Doses of more than 0.1 g/kg are considered toxic, and can result in hypoglycemia. High doses of xylitol (more than 0.5 g/kg) can result in acute necrosis of the liver. Xylitol toxicosis requires aggressive treatment, including intravenous fluid therapy.
Please remember that, while xylitol is safe for humans, it can be harmful to dogs, ferrets, and other non-primate species. Make sure that your pet does not have access to xylitol-containing products. If your pet has eaten a product containing xylitol, call your regular veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline (800) 213-6680, www.petpoisonhelpline.com . It will be important to determine if a toxic dose has been eaten.