Your dog eating gum may not seem like a big deal, but some types of chewing gum are toxic to dogs. Our Ypsilanti vets explain what you should do if your dog eats gum.
Why Is Gum Dangerous To Dogs?
It seems like it shouldn't be a big deal if your dog happens to eat chewing gum, after all, people swallow gum all the time and it rarely becomes a problem.
The trouble is that when it comes to our canine companions, xylitol (a common sweetener in sugar-free gum) is extremely toxic to dogs.
How Much Xylitol Does My Dog Need To Eat To Get Sick?
Xylitol is a low-calorie artificial sweetener found in many brands of chewing gum that is highly toxic to dogs. While not all sugar-free gum is sweetened with Xylitol, if your dog ate a piece of gum off the street there is just no way to know whether it contained this toxic ingredient.
Xylitol is so harmful to dogs that just 1 stick of gum may contain enough of the ingredient to poison a small dog.
Usually, the dose of xylitol required to cause poisoning in dogs is about 0.05 grams per pound of body weight. Chewing gum typically contains about 0.22-1.0 gram of xylitol per piece! This means that a 10-pound dog could suffer poisoning from just one piece of gum.
If your dog has eaten gum containing xylitol, veterinary care is required. Please head to your nearest animal emergency hospital for urgent care!
What Happens If My Dog Eats Gum With Xylitol?
Dogs are the only animals known to have a toxic reaction to xylitol.
Once ingested xylitol is quickly absorbed into your dog's bloodstream. It only takes 30-60 minutes for the effects of xylitol poisoning to begin to become apparent. This is why it is essential to get your dog to the vet immediately if they have eaten gum (or anything else) containing xylitol.
Xylitol ingestion in dogs typically leads to extremely low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) caused by a massive release of insulin into the body. Once this occurs symptoms begin to arise such as:
- Pale gums
- Generalized weakness
- Loss of consciousness
- Severe liver damage
Treatment For Dogs With Xylitol Poisoning
Although there is no antidote for xylitol poisoning, your vet will monitor your dog very carefully for at least 12 hours. They will pay close attention to your pup's blood sugar levels and liver function, immediately treating any symptoms that arise. Depending on your dog's symptoms they may require treatment including an IV glucose solution for up to 2 days in order to stabilize their blood sugar levels.
What Other Things Contain Xylitol?
Although today's post is focused on gum, please note that xylitol is used in a variety of other foods and products that your dog could eat such as sugar-free candy, peanut butter, toothpaste, chewable vitamins, nasal sprays, sunscreen, deodorant, baby wipes, hair products, and a number of medications for human use.
Contact your vet immediately if your dog eats anything containing xylitol, or that may contain this substance.
Is It Still An Emergency If The Gum Doesn't Contain Xylitol?
Not all brands of sugar-free gum contain xylitol. Sugar substitutes such as sorbitol, aspartame, and mannitol are not considered to be poisonous for dogs.
However, it is important to note that intestinal blockage is another hazard associated with dogs eating gum, particularly large pieces. Monitor your dog carefully for the following signs of an intestinal blockage and contact your vet immediately if symptoms arise.
Signs of an intestinal blockage can take a number of days to become clear and could include symptoms like vomiting, lack of energy, reluctance to play, abdominal pain, constipation, or loss of appetite.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.