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Xylitol and Chocolate Toxicity


As we enter fall and approach the holidays, Interstate Veterinary Hospital would like to make you aware of the common household toxins that your pets may encounter, Xylitol and Chocolate. Xylitol has quickly moved to the number 1 household toxicity of pets, while chocolate is number 4 but still important. 

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used in gum, candies, mints, flavored multi-vitamins, desserts, and baked goods. Most instances of toxicity are due to dogs ingesting a few pieces of chewing gum. Within the first 30 minutes of ingesting the gum, the dog's blood sugar drops dramatically. Early symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination and possibly collapse and seizure.  If left untreated, liver involvement can occur with 24 hours. While it can be fatal, owners who are able to tell their veterinarian about the ingestion so quick treatment could be started have had the highest chance of recovery.

Chocolate is a common ingredient in many of our food products. The occasional chocolate chip in one cookie may not be an issue for our pets, but certain types of chocolate can be very toxic. Bakers’ chocolate and dark chocolate pose the biggest problem. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. That’s because the darker the chocolate, the larger the amount of theobromine—a cousin chemical to caffeine—it contains.  The chemical toxicity results in vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and possibly death. Very young pets, geriatric pets, and animals with underlying disease are at a higher risk for poisoning than healthy, adult dogs and cats. Small amounts of chocolate may cause mild vomiting and diarrhea. Larger amounts can cause severe agitation, tachycardia (elevated heart rate), abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, seizures, and collapse. Due to the large amount of fat in chocolate, some pets may develop pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) after eating chocolate or baked goods. If you witness ingestion or see any symptoms contact your veterinarian immediately so that treat can be initiated as soon as possible. 


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