A closeup of some sugary-looking and decorated muffins.

Is Maltitol Safe For Dogs?

6 mins |

Sugar is in everything. Many individuals are looking for sugar substitutes as plain white sugar is considered fattening and unhealthy. The USA’s obsession with weight loss can alter not just people’s diets, but pets’ too. Maltitol, a sugar alcohol created synthetically, is one of the alternatives used in place of regular sugar. But is maltitol safe for dogs?

Other artificial sweeteners, such as xylitol, have a higher toxicity than maltitol, but this does not mean it’s advisable to use. Besides blood sugar level drops, depending on the amount, it also can cause vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures, and liver failure in dogs. That being said, it would be better to use a treat for your dogs that doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners at all. 

What Is Maltitol?

Maltitol is a sugar alcohol manufacturers use as an alternative to sugar. With the exception of browning, it has essentially equal characteristics to and is 75–90% as sweet as sucrose (table sugar). 

It is used instead of table sugar since it is less caloric, does not induce tooth decay, and affects blood sugar levels slightly less than table sugar. Because of these benefits, maltitol is frequently used to make a range of low-calorie, low-fat, and sugar-free foods.

Maltitol is created by hydrogenating the starch-derived sugar maltose,  and it causes a noticeable cooling sensation in the mouth.

Bodies don’t absorb maltitol as thoroughly as glucose and sucrose (table sugar). This could result in a gradual rise in blood sugar and, by extension, insulin levels. For individuals who have diabetes, it can be a good alternative, though. However, they should be aware it is still a carbohydrate. 

When people ingest products containing this sugar alternative, they can have some gastrointestinal problems. Some individuals report experiencing gas and stomach aches after consuming maltitol. It may also have laxative-like effects and result in diarrhea.

In Which Products Can You Find Maltitol?

A closeup of some sugary desserts on a tray.
Tasty for us, but not for dogs to eat.

Some fruits and vegetables naturally contain sugar and alcohol. Instead of using sugar alcohols in their natural state, manufacturers usually synthesize them and make other forms of sugar, such as maltitol. They are nearly as tasty as sugar and contain roughly half the calories.

Because maltitol has the necessary characteristics of a creamy texture, sweetness, a high melting point, and the ability to maintain color at high temperatures, manufacturers frequently use it in many products. 

For example, manufacturers use maltitol in coatings with a chocolate taste on frozen foods because of its high melting point and creamy smoothness.

Maltitol is also in:

  • Non-sugar hard candies
  • Unsweetened chocolate
  • Nutrient bars
  • Baked goods
  • Fruit and cream fillings for pastries
  • Chewing gums
  • Frostings and fondants
  • Icy desserts and ice cream
  • Desserts with milk and maybe even some dog food and treats

Due to its low-calorie content, manufacturers use maltitol to make vitamin preparations, tonics, and cough syrups. Some drugs contain maltitol as well.

On the label of your pet’s food, manufacturers may label it sugar alcohol. Xylitol, mannitol, erythritol, and sorbitol are other types of typical sugar alcohols.

Maltitol And Your Dog’s Health 

Pets metabolize different sugar alcohols in different ways. 

While maltitol is not dangerously toxic to pets, it is still important to monitor the quantities of goods containing the sweetener until we have more information about it and its effects.

It has caused gastrointestinal (GI) issues in many cases, though. This can manifest as vomiting, diarrhea, gasses, and other problems. Taken in larger amounts, it can also cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Rarely, but really important to take note, if taken in huge amounts, it can affect the liver, just as other sweeteners can. 


Out of all the known artificial sweeteners, xylitol is the most hazardous to dogs. Of all the sugar alcohols, it is the one that can lethally affect dogs because of their different metabolism. Unlike people, sugar alcohols are swiftly absorbed into the bloodstream in canines, causing the pancreas to release insulin almost immediately.

Hypoglycemia is a condition that results from the rapid release of insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels. A dog may get hypoglycemia an hour after consuming xylitol or something similar. Xylitol can cause hypoglycemia, which can be fatal if the owner doesn’t promptly bring their dog to a professional so they can treat what’s going on.

Some of the signs of xylitol issues in dogs include alterations in thought and behavior, seizures, twitching or flaccid movements of the muscles, sleepiness, intolerance to exercise, tremors of the muscles, weakness, and blurred vision.

Animals should stay away from foods like xylitol-sweetened cookies, gums, powder, cupcakes, and muffins. Loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, an unstable gait, a greater need to urinate, confusion, etc. are common symptoms of liver failure in dogs caused by these candies.

Although almost never as severe as these symptoms, other alcohol sugars can cause some harm, especially in higher doses. We always recommend talking with your vet further about these issues. We also recommend if you think your dog has ingested sugar alcohol, to keep a close eye on them.

In addition, it never hurts to contact your vet or take them to an emergency vet in this case, especially if they’re showing symptoms. You can also call the animal poison control hotline for help too.

What Artificial Sweeteners Are Safe for Your Dog?

It seems the alcohol sugars and sweeteners that are completely harmless to people, do not pass as safe for our furry friends.

If maltitol gives your dog gas and stomach aches, there are several simple substitutes.

An industrially made sugar alcohol called erythritol is popular among followers of the low-carb and ketogenic diets due to its versatility. Dogs can safely consume erythritol, according to studies.

Conclusion: Is Maltitol Safe For Dogs?

Unlike several other artificial sweeteners, maltitol is not poisonous to dogs. However, in most of the dogs that consume it, it might occasionally produce GI distress or diarrhea. Also, it can cause more harm if taken abundantly.

Therefore, it would be preferable to use a treat that has no artificial sweeteners at all, if possible. 

Cooked carrots, green beans, or little bits of roast beef or chicken provide tasty treats for many dogs.

So the next time you hesitate and ask yourself, “Is maltitol safe for dogs?” just remember it is one of the better sugar alcohol options, but bear in mind that vets advise avoiding all sweeteners. 

Have you had any experience with maltitol and your dog? How about treats that are safe for them and they liked? Let us know how it went in the comments below.

Sandra is a veterinary undergraduate student based in Macedonia. She combines her two passions: veterinary medicine and writing, and she also tends to raise awareness about animal welfare as much as she can. As a student, she has attended many seminars and conferences related to the veterinary profession, and currently, she is focused on veterinary content writing. Although she owns a cat, she strongly claims that “dogs are her favorite people”.