In April 2022, a viral rumor was shared on Facebook that McDonald’s ice cream contains xylitol, a sugar alcohol that is poisonous and even deadly to dogs.
At the time of filing this report, one viral post had already been shared over 1,000 times:
It read as follows:
I’m waiting for a response from McDonald’s to confirm…
It is announced that McDonald’s has added xylitol to its ice cream…. Xylitol is deadly for dogs! Please exercise caution until it is confirmed or denied….
Another example of McDonald’s ice cream linked to xylitol, also known as “birch” or “wood” sugar, has appeared as this colorful screenshot in numerous articles:
It read as follows:
“Just so everyone knows. McDonald’s ice cream contains xylitol sugar. Do not feed any of their ice creams to your pets. Xylitol sugar is toxic to dogs and will kill them within an hour. Please…”
McDonald’s Ice Cream Ingredients
We reached out to McDonald’s corporate communications team and shared the rumor on social media about the company’s ice cream, xylitol and dogs. We’ll update this story once we receive a response.
In the meantime, we’ve looked at the ingredients for all of McDonald’s desserts on the company’s US website. None of them mentioned xylitol as being included in any of the products.
Additionally, the Facebook posts that made the claim did not provide any evidence or source to back it up.
Regardless of the McDonald’s rumor, we’ve reported in the past that it’s true that xylitol is a sugar alcohol and dangerous for dogs. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has published that it is a “serious concern” if a dog ingests a product containing xylitol:
Xylitol is a sweetener most often found in food products, but also in other consumer goods. Although consuming xylitol can be dangerous for your dog, it does not cause serious problems in cats or ferrets.
In dogs, xylitol causes hypoglycemia and liver damage. Signs of low blood sugar include weakness, unsteadiness, tremors, and (if left untreated) seizures. While hypoglycaemia can occur very quickly, as early as 30 minutes after ingestion, it can take up to 12 hours for symptoms to appear after ingestion.
Signs of liver damage may include decreased appetite, lethargy, yellowing of the skin, and vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms indicating liver damage in your dog may not be seen for two or three days after ingestion.
Again, at this time, we have found no evidence to support the claim that McDonald’s ice cream contains xylitol. We initially assessed this claim as “Research in progress”. This rating will be updated.
“Xylitol: Everything You Need to Know”. Health lineOctober 4, 2018, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/xylitol-101.
“Xylitol: the sweetener that’s not so sweet for pets.” ASPCASeptember 20, 2017, https://www.aspca.org/news/xylitol-sweetener-not-so-sweet-pets.
“Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs.” VCA Veterinary Hospitalshttps://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/xylitol-toxicity-in-dogs.