Xylitol And Other Toxic Substances: Keep Away from Dogs

We all know you shouldn’t feed a dog chocolate. It’s basic human knowledge and a fact that’s been drilled in our heads since we could walk and talk. However, there are some other substances that are newer or people are less aware of that are toxic to our wonderful furry friends.

Let’s walk through what to stay away from. You possibly will be familiar with some but there were a few I hadn’t heard of and am thankful to know about. It’s always wise to stay on top of all the current recommendations for your pooch so you don’t end up being in a news story. Am I the only one that worries about that?

Jake on the stairs


Let’s figure out what this is and why it’s toxic to our best little buddies.

What is it?

If you have read ingredients on your favorite gum, toothpaste, or mouthwash in the last few years, you possibly noticed a common ingredient – Xylitol. It’s a natural ingredient and not something you would think of as being poisonous. It is most used as a sugar substitute.

With all the sugar craze, it’s no wonder xylitol has made a huge debut. We can find it in a number of things like gum or candy. These are the things your dog will try to get to because of the smell. I don’t know that there are that many dogs going after mouthwash, do you?

Why is it toxic?

The problem with xylitol is that dogs cannot digest it. The effects are very dangerous and sometimes deadly, even with the smallest amount. If you have a medium-sized to a small dog, you will want to be extra careful. The effects are virtually immediate, under 1 hour in most cases. Yikes!

In humans, xylitol just doesn’t easily get digested. However, in dogs, it gets absorbed into the bloodstream at a very rapid rate. The result is a huge drop in blood glucose levels. Just like if your blood sugar would plummet, there are some severe side effects, including liver failure and death.

The VCA states that just “50 milligrams (mg) of xylitol per pound of body weight (100 mg per kg) can cause hypoglycemia”. That can be as little as two pieces of gum for a smaller dog!

That’s why it is so important to treat your dog as fast if they have consumed xylitol. You can call the pet poison hotline (800-213-6680) to get immediate advice and then take them straight to the vet. Do not treat them on your own. Liver failure is a real possibility, and you don’t want to waste any precious time you have.

Signs and Symptoms of Xylitol poisoning

If you suspect that your dog has consumed xylitol, don’t wait to see if anything happens. Go straight to the vet, and they can confirm your suspicions for you. It’s not worth waiting around. The longer your pet goes without treatment, the smaller the window you have to treat it and keep them alive.

There are a few tell-tale signs that your dog has consumed xylitol:

  • Getting it out of their body – Dogs are very good at trying to get anything dangerous out of their system as fast as possible. This can make the condition worse.
  • Uncoordinated movement – If your dog looks like they had a few too many cocktails, you can bet they consumed something toxic.
  • General weakness – When your dog is just slow or lethargic, can’t lift their head well, etc. You know something is wrong.
  • Tremors or seizures – If your dog gets to this point, you have a very short window left to save them.
  • Coma – If your dog has reached this point, there is very little chance they will survive. Their blood sugar has dropped too low and their liver is perhaps failing or has failed at this point.

Human Food That’s Toxic For Dogs

While we know chocolate is one on the list, some other products are less well known. In fact, I may have given some of these to my dogs occasionally. Guilty! Let’s look at this list of foods you should NOT feed your dog from your plate.

  • Alcohol (Obviously don’t give them a beer, but also other products that contain alcohol in them can be troublesome)
  • Avocado
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Any Caffeine
  • Citrus Foods
  • Grapes and Raisins
  • Salt or Salty Foods
  • Milk and Dairy
  • Yeast
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chives
  • Raw Eggs
  • Bones
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Nuts

The moral of the story here is not to feed your dog human food. Just feed them their dog food and dog treats and you won’t need to worry about this. However, if you have a dog sneaky like ours, you might have to really watch your food! There’s been a number of incidents where our dog has snuck food right off the counter. Darn him and his long legs.

Other Toxic Substances

Beyond Xylitol and human foods, there are many other things your furry family member can get into that are toxic. Some of the most common ones are:

Medicines, poisonous mushrooms or plants, and household products. That’s some broad categories but certainly if it’s toxic to you, it will be toxic to them. It’s best to just not have these products around, but if you do, keep them locked up tight and far away from that cold wet nose.

Have any doubts if it’s a poison for your dog or not? Check out this easy-to-use search tool.

Keep Your Dog Safe

Keep all toxic items away from your dog. I don’t care if you have to lock the products up, put them in a cabinet, or if it’s in a safe. Just don’t risk it. It’s just like you wouldn’t leave bleach sitting out in reach of a baby. They can’t read the warning signs and do not understand what’s okay to ingest or not.

We all care about our dogs and want to take all the steps to make sure their safety, and spoil them with the pleasure of sleeping on a comfortable dog bed.

Now that you are armed with this toxic product list, you can feel safe about leaving your dog home alone. You won’t regret being overprotective in this matter, trust me. Let’s just hope they don’t chew through a wall or destroy a couch cushion whilst you are away.