What are the Xylitol Risks
For You, Kids, and Dogs?

What are the Xylitol Risks if you and your children use this sugar-like sweetener? How about xylitol and dogs, can they experience xylitol toxicity too? Xylitol, like it’s cousin erythritol, are in a class of sweeteners called a ‘sugar alcohol’, is made from the bark of birch or other trees, and is increasingly being used as a sugar substitute.

Unlike the Side Effects of Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, side effects of xylitol are minimal, and can even be beneficial in many ways, including proliferating the Good Bacteria in the gut and the inhibition of cavities. But what about the risks of xylitol poisoning in dogs, and xylitol dangers to kids? Are these something that you should be worried about? Keep reading to find out…

Xylitol Risks for You

If you use xylitol as a sugar substitute, you might be concerned about xylitol toxicity and the dangers of this sweetener. Fortunately, there have been many studies done on xylitol, erythritol, and the other ‘sugar alcohols’ that can inform you as to whether you should risk using this sweetener. 

xylitol risks and xylitol toxicity. Extensive studies in Europe have yielded no reports of toxicity

Fortunately, as we point out on the Side Effects of Xylitol page, it seems as though it’s a pretty safe substance. One study did intensive blood and metabolic testing after giving study subjects a 50 gram dose, which is almost 2 tablespoons, and no one had any noticeable problems(2).

Doses over 50 grams at a time, however, can lead to digestive distress in some people. However, this digestive distress is both temporary and people who continue to use these sugar alcohols will cease having digestive problems after using these sugars the longer they use them(3). But digestive problems CAN be a 'dealbreaker' that prevents you from using these sweeteners if you have serious disturbances in your gut health such as C-Difficile or Increased Intestinal Permeability.

Be sure to read the page on Xylitol Side Effects to see when you have digestive problems that might make it so you can't use these sugars until you heal your gut problems. 

Another study followed a group of people for two years who were using high amounts of xylitol every day for 2 years. The highest amount of xylitol taken in one day was 430 grams, almost a POUND of xylitol, and even at these high doses and still no one experienced any significant problems. (4)

Xylitol Risks for Children

So, xylitol seems not only safe, but might even be beneficial for adults, but what about the most vulnerable of us- our children. With more and more snack and candy products containing xylitol instead of sugar, kids might be getting more and more exposure to xylitol. Could this be a danger to your little ones? 

“Consumption of considerable doses of sucrose and
 xylitol respectively reveals no relevant changes...
which would indicate any kind of metabolic intolerance
to these sweetening substances.”
Metabolic tolerance to high doses of oral xylitol in human volunteers not previously adapted to xylitol

Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a problem with your kids getting xylitol and, unlike Side Effects of Aspartame, it might even be beneficial. Xylitol has been used in the feeding formulas of infants and even premature babies since the 1970's without any problems in this extremely vulnerable population(6). One study gave kids a total of 15 grams of xylitol per day for three months, and it actually helped them have fewer cavities and reduce the incidence of ear infections without safety problems identified.(1)

Xylitol and Dogs
Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

OK, so xylitol seems pretty safe for both adults and kids, but what about xylitol and dogs? As more and more snack foods end up being made with xylitol, our four-legged friends are likely to be sneaking some of these treats when we are not looking. Could this be harmful for them? 

What are the xylitol risks for you, kids, and dogs?

Unfortunately, a dog’s metabolism is different from a human’s and, just like the risks of the Antibiotic Levaquin for Dogs, feeding Fido xylitol can lead to dangerous blood sugar changes and even fatal liver failure. 

Rabbits and cats also cannot tolerate xylitol, but cats are not so prone to eating cupcakes, and pet rabbits aren’t often given sweet treats, so our other pets being poisoned is usually not an issue.

But back to dogs; fortunately, the amount of damage that xylitol toxicity does to dogs is dependent upon what dose they receive. If your dog eats a small amount of xylitol, they may just have some blood sugar changes that can be resolved easily by a veterinarian who is able to monitor their condition(5)

The larger the dose the dog takes, or the smaller the dog, the more serious the problems that might arise and the more advanced treatment that might be required. While some dogs that required serious intervention managed to survive, other dogs were not so lucky and ended up dying from liver failure.

So, your dog eating xylitol is so dangerous as to even be fatal. So be very careful of these xylitol risks and keep this sweetener away from your fur babies, and if they do accidentally eat some of your sweet treats with xylitol, be sure to get them to a veterinarian if you are worried about them, or you notice they are lethargic or have any personality changes. 

Sources:

  1. Tolerability of oral xylitol solution in young children: Implications for otitis media prophylaxis
  2. Effects of Oral Xylitol Administration on Carbohydrate and Lipid Metabolism in Adults
  3. Effect of long-term, peroral administration of sugar alcohols on man
  4. Long-term tolerance of healthy human subjects to high amounts of xylitol and fructose: general and biochemical findings
  5. Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs
  6. Safety of Xylitol When Consumed by Humans: A Review of the Literature

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