Your dog eating gum may not seem like a big deal, but varieties of chewing gum are toxic to dogs. Our Mechanicsburg vets explain what you should do if your dog eats gum.
The Dangers of Dogs Eating Gum
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 highly poisonous for dogs.
How much xylitol would my dog need to eat to get sick?
Dogs are highly toxic to xylitol, a low-calorie artificial sweetener found in many brands of chewing gum. While not all sugar-free gum is sweetened with Xylitol, there is no way to know if your dog ate a piece of gum off the street if it contained this toxic ingredient.
Xylitol is so toxic to dogs that just 1 stick of gum may contain enough of the ingredient to poison a small dog.
Generally speaking, 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 grams of xylitol per piece! This means that a 10-pound dog could be poisoned by just one piece of gum.
Has your dog eaten gum containing xylitol?
Urgent veterinary care is required. Please head to your nearest animal emergency hospital for urgent care!
What happens if a dog eats gum with Xylitol in it?
Dogs are the only animals known to have a toxic reaction to xylitol.
When your dog consumes xylitol, it is quickly absorbed into his bloodstream. The effects of xylitol poisoning become apparent within 30-60 minutes. This is why, if your dog has eaten xylitol-containing gum (or anything else), you must take them to the vet right away.
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
How will the vet treat my dog for xylitol poisoning?
There is no antidote for xylitol poisoning, but your veterinarian will closely monitor your dog for at least 12 hours, paying special attention to your dog's blood sugar levels and liver function, and treating any symptoms that arise. Depending on your dog's symptoms, treatment may include an IV glucose solution for up to two days to stabilize their blood sugar levels.
What other things contain xylitol?
While this blog is about gum, it's important to note that xylitol is found in a variety of other foods and products that your dog might eat at random, including sugar-free candy, peanut butter, toothpaste, chewable vitamins, nasal sprays, sunscreen, deodorant, baby wipes, hair products, and several human medications.
Contact your vet immediately if your dog eats anything containing xylitol, or that may contain this substance.
Is it still an emergency if my dog ate gum that 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.
It is important to note, however, that intestinal blockage is another risk for dogs who eat gum, especially large pieces. Keep an eye out for the following signs of an intestinal blockage in your dog and contact your vet right away if they appear.
Signs of an intestinal blockage can take several days to become evident and may include 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.