One thing that we know about dogs is that they love to eat everything they can get their mouths on. Unfortunately, sometimes they eat substances that they shouldn't such as chewing gum. Our Berkeley vets discuss why gum is toxic to dogs and what you should do if you notice that your dog ate gum.
Why is gum dangerous for dogs to eat?
Something we may not think about is how there are some substances that humans may be able to ingest without issue, there are some that are toxic to our canine companions. One such substance is chewing gum.
May of the common chewed brands of gum are sugar-free and these types of gum contain sweeteners such as xylitol which is highly poisonous to dogs.
How much Xylitol does it take to have a toxic reaction in my dog?
Xylitol is a low-calorie artificial sweetener that is commonly used in chewing gum and also happens to be extremely toxic to dogs. While not all sugar-free gum is sweetened with Xylitol, there is no way of knowing what brand it is if your dog ate gum while you were out for a walk.
It only takes the amount of xylitol in a single piece of gum to have a detrimental effect on a 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 gram of xylitol per piece! This means that a 10-pound dog could be poisoned by just one piece of gum.
What steps should I take if my dog ate gum with xylitol?
If you noticed that your dog ate chewing gum then the first step you should take is to contact your nearest veterinary emergency clinic.
What are the symptoms of Xylitol poisoning in dogs?
As far as we know, dogs actually happen to be the only animal that xylitol is known to be toxic to.
Once ingested, it takes as little as 30-60 minutes for the toxic effects to begin to show in your dog. This makes it incredibly important to bring your dog to the vet immediately if they ate gum or any other substance that could potentially contain 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
How will my dog be treated if they have xylitol poisoning?
Unfortunately, xylitol poisoning is not able to be cured if your dog experiences it, your vet will monitor your dog very carefully for at least 12 hours, paying particular 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 two days in order to stabilize their blood sugar levels.
Are there any other substances that contain xylitol?
While gum may be the most common way that dogs ingest xylitol, it is important to be aware that xylitol is used in various other foods and products that your dog could randomly decide to 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.
If your dog eats anything containing xylitol or any other substance that could cause potential complications you should immediately contact your nearest emergency vet.
What if the gum that my dog ate 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.
You should also be aware that the ingredients are not the only concern if your dog ate gum, there is also the worry of the potential for intestinal blockages. 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 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.