Birch Sugar, Xylitol, 967 – What Is That?

by Heather Murphy

If you own a dog you need to know about the ingredient xylitol often listed as birch sugar, and most recently No: 967.

This is a sugar alcohol that is extracted from Birch Trees, hardwoods, corn fibre and/or other vegetable matter. It is made into a white powder to resemble sugar and act as a sugar replacement.

Xylitol’s popularity is increasing because it contains half the calories of sugar and doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes. Sounds good right?

But the problem is xylitol is highly poisonous to our dogs and can be fatal if ingested. They only need a tiny amount to set off a hypoglycemic reaction ( a drop in blood sugar) and with xylitol becoming popular it is now found in many things.

What items contain Xylitol?

As with all additives it must be disclosed on the label - look for xylitol, birch sugar or No 967 in the ingredients listing.

Xylitol is now being used in many things from baked goods to mouthwash. 

In the US there are over 700 items listed as containing birch sugars. Most of these aren’t available in NZ but as markets open up and more international goods are imported there is more chance of xylitol being included in the items you buy.

Below are just a few items that can contain xylitol:

  • Drink powders, instant coffee, ketchup, vitamins, chocolates & sweets (i.e. mentos), toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, chewing gum (i.e. juicy fruit, tic-tac gum) some peanut butters, jams, baked goods
Xylitol, Birch Sugar No 967

    I’ve also seen prescription drugs that are used in both humans and dogs – the human version contained xylitol, the canine version obviously did not.

    According the Pet Poison line in the States the most common poisoning from xylitol is through sugar free gum – maybe a dog ingests some that someone has discarded on the ground – or maybe they get into a packet lying around the house.

    Xylitol, birch sugar, No 967 can also be used in baked goods too so unless you actually know the item you are eating is xylitol-free best not share any of your baked items with your dogs.

    Always read the labels and don’t give your dog anything that contains Xylitol.

    Xylitol learn the danger to dogs

    The problem with Birch Sugar, Xylitol, No 967

    When a dog eats something containing xylitol, birch sugar it is quickly absorbed into the blood stream and causes a potent release of insulin from the pancreas. This causes a drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

    It is fast! 10 – 60 minutes after ingestion. The signs to look for are:

    • Vomiting

    • Lethargy

    • Weakness

    • Seizures

    • Staggering

    • Loss of coordination

    The most important thing to do if you suspect Xylitol poisoning

    • Get your dog to the vet ASAP

    • Tell them they have eaten xylitol

    • Do not induce vomiting

    • A hypoglycemic reaction may already be happening which could cause liver failure – Get to your vet immediately

    Always be vigilant with anything containing Xylitol.

    Now could be a could time to check the ingredients of your household items, anything containing Xylitol should be stored up high and far away to ensure your dog does not have access.

    What do you need to do now?

    • Read the labels

    • Ask if your bought baked goods contain xylitol

    • Store any items containing xylitol away from dogs reach

    • Share this blog so your friends know too

    Keep our dogs safe and out of harms way


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    We write blogs to help dogs and their owners. If you need help with allergies we have many blogs on those too click here to read our top tips for a healthy dog 

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