Most foods or ingredients that are toxic to dogs have to be eaten in a certain amount relative to the dog's weight to be seriously harmful or deadly. Unfortunately, even a small amount of an ingredient called xylitol can do serious damage to a dog of any size.
WHat it is
Xylitol (pronouced zye-leh-tall) is an artificial sweetener that works as a substitute for sugar, its use in everyday products is increasing quickly. It's most commonly used as an ingredient in foods that are labeled "sugar-free" or oral care products, such as toothpaste. Xylitol causes no harm to humans, but can be detrimental to dogs. As a pet owner, pay attention to all of the human food products you give to your pups. A big one to keep in mind is peanut butter - sometimes they contain artificial sweeteners and it would be fatal if, for example, you gave your dog a couple spoonfuls in their Kong toy.
What it does
When dogs eat xylitol, it causes a rapid decrease of their blood glucose levels. This causes low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which can lead to liver toxicity and damage.
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can occur within 30 to 60 minutes of xylitol ingestion with levels as low as 0.1g xylitol/kg body weight. - Dr. Dana Brooks
That is scary to think about because that is a fairly small amount... and if a dog is getting into something they're not supposed to, they're obviously not going to limit themselves... Most dogs will probably eat as much as possible before they get caught, and that can get them into some serious trouble.
What to do
Obviously, keep these products out of reach from your pets. After you read this article, do me a huge favor and proof your home of anything with xylitol in it!
If your dog does ingest some they will become lethargic and seem very weak, they may even collapse and have trouble walking. As soon as you see any of these signs, take them to the vet immediately. Don't waste time trying to google info about how much they have to eat or what symptoms to look for, etc. I'm telling you now - just put them in the car and start driving. The longer they have it in their system the more fatal and irreversible the damage is! If you're able to, bring the packaging of whatever your dog ate to the veterinarian so that they are able to see a complete list of the ingredients. The sooner you take your dog to the vet, the better their chances are after ingesting xylitol!