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How Long Does Xylitol Stay in a Dog’s System?

How Long Does Xylitol Stay in a Dog’s System?

Several things cause fear and anxiety among pet parents. One of them is having your dog eat soft bones that can break apart and hurt her badly.

Also, the constant worry that she might run into a garden with a toxic plant and ingest it can have you worrying your brains out.

Then there’s xylitol poisoning. The thought of your furry friend consuming xylitol can drive you bonkers.

While the sugar substitute is safe for humans, it is just the opposite for our dogs.  It can wreak havoc in her system, causing a host of complications and death.

If you suspect that your dog has eaten your sugar-free gum or pastry containing xylitol, you need to act fast before things get out of hand.

In this post, we will help you to understand how long xylitol stays in your dog’s system.

What Is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a popular sugar alternative used to make a wide range of products with the common one being sugar-free gum.

It is characterized as a sugar alcohol and contains traits of alcohol molecules and sugar molecules.

With a unique molecular structure, xylitol triggers your tongue’s taste receptors for sweetness.

It is also natural since it is found in small amounts in vegetables and fruits.

Humans utilize it because it has a low glycemic index compared to added sugar or corn syrup.

It contains zero fructose and doesn’t spike insulin and blood sugar. Because of this, xylitol is a common ingredient in candies, baked goods, dental products, and diabetes-friendly foods.

Why Is Xylitol Toxic To Dogs?

When your dog ingests xylitol, her insulin will rise while her blood sugar drops terribly.

The alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream quite rapidly and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can occur quickly.

Within minutes of eating sugar-free candy, you will notice your dog being weak, vomiting, having diarrhea, seizures, tremors, and ataxia.

If not treated quickly, hypoglycemia can result in death.

Xylitol ingestion also causes liver damage and liver failure. This can happen if the amount ingested is a lot.

However, not all canines can have damaged livers as a result of eating the sugar alcohol.

How Much Xylitol Can Kill A Dog?

No matter the amount of xylitol ingested by your dog, you should always rush her to the vet as early as possible.

Dogs react to it in unpredictable ways. Some show symptoms of poisoning despite taking small amounts.

Generally speaking, poisoning occurs if a dog swallows 45mg/ pound (100mg/kg) of body weight.

To help you make sense of these numbers, one teaspoon of xylitol weighs roughly about 4000mg. This means that your 20-pound dog only needs a quarter of a teaspoon to become ill.

It is less likely that your doggie will eat actual xylitol crystals. Instead, she will mostly chomp on gum, baked goods with the alcohol, and lick sugar-free candy.

Typically, a gum stick has 0.3-0.4 grams of the deadly ingredient.

A 12-pound dog can show symptoms of poisoning if she ingests one and a half sticks of the gum.

A bigger dog can get away with one or two sticks but if she goes more than that, things can go south.

For liver toxicity, your dog will need to ingest as little as 0.1 g/kg of bodyweight.

However, some dogs show symptoms of liver failure and liver damage even before their sugar levels drop.

How Long Does Xylitol Take To Kill A Dog?

When your pup consumes xylitol, the symptoms of glycemia will show within 20-30 minutes.

Sometimes it goes up to 24 hours and more depending on how fast or slow the body absorbs the alcohol.

Typically, hypoglycemia symptoms stay for 6-12 hours after which the dog will start seizing and collapsing.

The time it takes to put your dog down depends on the amount ingested and the rate of absorption into the bloodstream. The latter is based on the form of the xylitol ingested.

Some xylitol forms are easy to absorb while others are not. Also, if your pooch consumes gum as a whole, wrapper included, poisoning will not be rapid as absorption will take longer.

Some dogs can go for longer than 24 hours before they die (even longer) but some can drop dead within 6 hours.

Since you are in no position to judge how your doggie will respond to xylitol, your best bet is to rush her to the vet.

How long does it stay In a Dog’s System?

Although some pet parents are lucky to be present when their dogs eat xylitol, many of us don’t get to see it first-hand.

Often, the doggie swallows products containing the sugar alternative when you are at work or running errands.

This begs the question of how long xylitol can stay in your dog’s system. How long can the sugar alcohol stay in her body without killing her?

As mentioned earlier, poisoning can occur within 30 minutes of ingestion. Some take as long as 48 hours depending on the rate of absorption and the rate of absorption.

By then, the dog may be showing hypoglycemia symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy, disinterest in her surrounding, and outright depression.

If they consume a lot of it, they will soon collapse and start seizing.

With that said, xylitol can take days before killing your dog. This is mostly true if the dog ate small amounts and if she doesn’t suffer liver damage.

Other times, even liver values take up to three days to increase. This solely depends on the dog in question and how her liver metabolizes the xylitol.

In short, xylitol can stay in your dog’s system for anything between 20 minutes and several days.

Unfortunately, you cannot tell how long your dog has before they die. Call the vet if you suspect that your curious friend has eaten a product containing xylitol.

They should be able to induce vomiting to get as much of the alcohol out.

If symptoms persist, the dog will be put on an IV drip for 24 hours as the vet carries out blood clotting tests and monitors electrolytes, liver enzymes, and phosphorous.

If the dog shows improvement after three days, she will be discharged.


Xylitol is a healthy sugar alternative for humans but it should never find its way to a dog’s system.

From inducing glycemia to causing an injury to the liver to activating gastrointestinal upsets, the sugar alcohol is very poisonous to dogs.

How long it stays in the dog’s body depends on several factors but it can kill in minutes or take several days.

The bottom line is that a dog, regardless of size and amount ingested, needs medical attention as fast as possible.

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