Is it Safe for Dogs to Consume Sorbitol?

Is it Safe for Dogs to Consume Sorbitol?

Sorbitol is a type of polyol, or sugar alcohol, commonly utilized as a substitute for sugar in a variety of food products, including frozen treats, sugar-free candies, pastries, and chewing gum.

In terms of chemical composition, it closely resembles glucose, except for the presence of an additional hydrogen atom.

The level of sweetness in this substance is approximately 60% of that found in regular table sugar, while also containing fewer calories and a lower glycemic index.

Compared to regular table sugar, this sweetener has a lower calorie content of 2.6 per gram, as opposed to 4 calories per gram.

The glycemic index is a way to gauge the impact of a specific carbohydrate on your dog’s blood sugar. It indicates how much their blood sugar levels will increase after consuming one gram of the carbohydrate.

According to guidelines, the glycemic index value for glucose is 100, and all other types of carbohydrates are typically evaluated in relation to this highest value.

With a glycemic index of approximately 4-7, Sorbitol can be considered as having a remarkably low glycemic index, as we mentioned earlier.

Sorbitol is a natural compound that can be found in various fruits, including apples, plums, and pears. It is also present in other plants such as seaweed and corn.

Xylitol is found in certain sugar-free confections, chewing gums, baked goods, and various human medications such as laxatives and cough syrups.

If foods made in countries belonging to the European Union contain sorbitol, it may be indicated as E420 in the list of ingredients.

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Is it Safe for Dogs to Consume Sorbitol?

Is Sorbitol Safe for Dogs?

In moderation, Sorbitol is generally considered safe for dogs.

Although certain artificial sweeteners, such as xylitol, can be harmful to dogs, sorbitol is not included in this category.

In many cases, the sweetener is added to a variety of dog foods and pet toothpaste products.

Since sorbitol is a type of sugar alcohol, it does not break down in your dog’s body and cause sudden increases in blood sugar levels. Additionally, it does not provide nourishment to harmful bacteria in your dog’s digestive system.

The substance is eliminated through the dog’s urine in a nearly unaltered state, resulting in minimal impact on the dog’s body.

Possible Adverse Reactions


Even though sorbitol is generally considered safe for dogs, excessive consumption can lead to negative side effects such as:

1. Mild to moderate upset stomach

Dogs may experience mild to moderate gastrointestinal discomfort due to the consumption of sorbitol.

Excessive consumption of the sweetener can lead to various signs and symptoms such as bloating, pain in the abdomen, flatulence, and feeling of sickness.

The majority of these indications have a tendency to coincide with those of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If you believe your dog may have an intolerance to sorbitol, it is recommended to seek assistance from your veterinarian in conducting a thorough examination.

It is a known fact that both individuals and canines who suffer from IBS have difficulty in properly absorbing sorbitol.

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2. Possible Laxative Properties

In addition to the gastrointestinal symptoms mentioned previously, sorbitol can lead to diarrhea when consumed in excessive amounts.

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In general, sorbitol is known for its strong osmotic laxative effects, meaning that it can attract water into your dog’s intestines and prevent their stool from becoming dry.

An increase in water intake can result in softer stools, making it easier for your dog to pass them. This can be beneficial if your dog is experiencing constipation.

If your dog is susceptible to diarrhea or has a pre-existing health issue that can lead to diarrhea, consuming sorbitol can potentially provoke or exacerbate loose stool and excessive gas.

3. Dogs who are Pregnant or Nursing

According to a previous research conducted on lactating rats, sorbitol was found to transfer to their milk, resulting in the manifestation of toxic symptoms in their offspring.

The offspring exposed to sorbitol exhibited indications of damage to their liver and bone marrow, and also had a smaller size compared to the average.

While there is no data on the impact of sorbitol consumption in breastfed puppies, it is advisable to be cautious with the amount of sweetener given to pregnant or nursing dogs.

4. May exacerbate symptoms of IBS

A dog’s daily routine can be affected by irritable bowel syndrome, which is a significant condition that affects the digestive system.

One example is the development of long-term inflammation and discomfort in a canine’s digestive system.

According to research, dogs with IBS may not effectively absorb sorbitol in their intestines, potentially exacerbating their symptoms and causing flare-ups.

If your dog is experiencing IBS, it is best to refrain from giving him foods that are rich in sorbitol.

Comparison between Sorbitol and Xylitol

Many pet parents frequently mix up sorbitol and xylitol, causing concern whenever either of these sweeteners is brought up.

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What sets these two apart, particularly in terms of their dog-friendly safety?

Both sorbitol and xylitol are types of sugar alcohols that are formed by a chemical process that involves the addition of an additional hydrogen atom to glucose (in the case of sorbitol) or xylose (in the case of xylitol).

The chemical structures of sorbitol and xylitol are alike, with the only difference being that sorbitol has a 6-carbon chain while xylitol has a 5-carbon chain.

Both sweeteners are also low-calorie and have less of an impact on tooth decay compared to traditional sugar.

Despite the fact that sorbitol is considered safe for canines, xylitol poses a significant danger to them due to its high toxicity.

If left untreated, it can lead to liver damage, a significant decrease in blood sugar levels, and potentially even death.

If you have low-calorie foods stored in your pantries, it is important to be mindful and ensure that xylitol is kept out of reach from your pet.


Sorbitol is a safe option for dogs and can serve as a nutritious alternative to refined sugar for your canine companion.

Nonetheless, similar to other types of sweeteners, sorbitol can have some adverse effects, particularly if your dog consumes it in excessive amounts.

Therefore, moderation plays a crucial role in maximizing the benefits of this sweetener.

In case you come across sorbitol in any food or product meant for your dog, it is crucial to consult your vet for advice on the appropriate dosage and quantity to give your dog, in order to ensure its safety.