Sugar Substitutes, Beware

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Recently at Greenbriar we had a dog come in for boarding that was being given vitamins unknowingly containing Xylitol. The owner was not aware of the risks to their dog and was so grateful! We wanted to share their story as well as tell you about the risks in giving your canine sugar substitutes.

“Chris” at Greenbriar saved our dog’s life!! He noticed that the vitamin supplement we were giving our Lab for his nail issues, was flavored with an artificial sweetener that is poisonous to dogs!  He called to tell us, and we immediately stopped giving the supplement.  Now we know to be extra careful when ordering the vitamin, making sure it has no artificial sweetener. This incident speaks to the professionalism and knowledge of the staff at Greenbriar!  We’ve been boarding our Labs there for many years, driving 40 minutes from Virginia just so we can rest assured while we travel that our dogs are happy in day camp and well loved and cared for by the exceptional staff.  THANK YOU, CHRIS!  THANK YOU, GREENBRIAR!!  “Woof! Woof!”


In today’s world, we are trying to be as healthy as possible. One of these ways is to cut down on the amount of sugar we consume.  Many sugar-free gums and sugar-free vitamins contain a sugar substitute called xylitol.

Xylitol can cause two major problems:

  1. Dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) – Because Xylitol is not real sugar, the pancreas gets confused and sends out insulin. Insulin does not act on xylitol but lowers the body’s own blood sugar which can make your dog vomit, become uncoordinated, seizure, and even possible cause death.
  1. Liver damage – Although the mechanism is not understood, the xylitol can cause the liver to die. Dog’s do not necessarily get the low blood sugar with the liver damage. Symptoms can start to show within 8-12 hours.

The toxic dose of xylitol can be 0.03-.045 grams per kilogram. Each type of gum and each flavor can have varying amounts of xylitol.

Bring your dog to the veterinarian IMMEDIATELY if you think your dog has eaten anything containing xylitol.

At this time, there have been no reports of cats getting xylitol toxicosis.

Please be cautious with canine mouthwashes containing xylitol as well. Most of them have a very small amount and the benefits outweigh the risks, but when you have different size dogs sharing the same water bowl, it has to be monitored closely to make sure the small dog does not get the big dog’s dose.

If for some reason a veterinarian is not available, please call Animal Poison Control center at:

(888) 426-4435

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