Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. It can kill your dog. I might sound overly dramatic, but I am just being brutally honest. It is a sugar substitute found in all kinds of things from chewing gum to candy to liquid medicine. It is estimated to be 100 times as toxic as chocolate to dogs! So it is something to take very seriously. There are a lot of good sites with information about it including the Pet Poison Hotline and the FDA. VCA Animal Hospitals has a "Xylitol toxicity in dogs" page on their website as well.
All veterinarians and all pet compounding pharmacies are supposed to be well versed in this dangerous toxin. Every time I have to have a liquid medicine of ANY kind, my vet is always asking repeatedly about Xylitol and she calls everyone involved to make sure they know it's not to be in it.
Well, more and more regular human pharmacies are filling dog and pet prescriptions, but they don't know all the ins and outs of what might make a dog (or cat or ferret) sick. Be especially careful about places that state they can do a pet compounding prescription. They might not know about something like Xylitol. It does not matter how well meaning or innocent they are...if they give you a bottle of poison to give your dog, it won't matter "how nice they were".
Mommy was upset and worried all weekend, but managed to stretch the little bit of Gabapentin I had left from the old bottle to last me through the weekend. Monday morning, Mommy talked to the pharmacy and made them read every single ingredient of this different Gabapentin liquid. That is when it was officially discovered that the large bottle of clear, icky sweet smelling Gabapentin they sent home with Mommy, that they insisted was okay and safe for her dog to take, had Xylitol in it. If I had taken it 3 times a day for that weekend? Well, I would have gotten desperately ill and not have made it to the second dose. If Peanut had taken it? Neither she nor I would be here today.
This is what Xylitol does to a dog's system:
1. Xylitol is immediately absorbed in the bloodstream of the dog.
2. Dog's body responds by releasing huge amounts of insulin.
3. Rapid insulin release causes severe hypoglycemia attack for dog.
All of this in as little as 10 minutes!
4. Xylitol in even small doses can and will cause liver failure.
Please be vigilant and know what you are giving your dog. It can be the difference between life and death. If you get medicine that at all makes you wonder, doubt or looks different than what you normally give them...when in doubt, don't give it to them!!
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