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My Dog Ate Gum: Is That Dangerous?

While your dog eating gum may not seem like a big issue, some chewing gums are toxic to dogs. Our Mandeville vets explain what to do if your dog has eaten gum. 

The Dangers Behind Dogs Eating Gum

Because you might swallow gum without a thought, you might not think it's that big of a deal if your dog happens to eat chewing gum. However, when it comes to our pooches, xylitol, a common sweetener in sugar-free gum, is highly poisonous to dogs. 

How much xylitol would my dog have to eat to get sick?

Xylitol is highly toxic for dogs. This low-calorie artificial sweetener is found in many breeds of chewing gum. While not all sugar-free gum contains xylitol, there's no way to be sure of knowing if your dog found the gum containing this ingredient in the street or another communal space. 

Dogs are so sensitive to xylitol that a single stick of gum could be enough to kill a small dog. Generally, about 0.05 grams of xylitol per pound of body weight is needed to cause poisoning in dogs. Each piece of chewing gums contains between 0.22 and 1.0 grams of xylitol, which means that a single piece of gum may poison a 10-pound dog. 

What should I do if my dog eats gum containing xylitol? 

Urgent veterinary care is required. Please head to your vet for urgent care or to your nearest emergency animal hospital. 

What happens if a dog eats gum with xylitol in it? 

Dogs are the only animals known to have a toxic reaction to xylitol, which will be quickly absorbed into your dog's bloodstream once consumed. Xylitol poisoning takes between 30 and 60 minutes to manifest. This is why, if your dog has eaten gum (or anything else) with xylitol in it, you should get them to a vet right away. 

When a dog ingests xylitol, poisoning will typically trigger a massive release of insulin into the body, which causes extremely low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Once this occurs, symptoms like these will likely begin to arise:

  • Pale gums
  • Stumbling
  • Vomiting
  • Generalized weakness
  • Seizures
  • Lethargy
  • Severe liver damage
  • Coma
  • Tremors
  • Loss of consciousness 

Although there is no antidote for xylitol poisoning, your veterinarian will closely monitor your dog for at least 12 hours, paying close attention to his 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 bring their blood sugar levels back to normal.

What other things contain xylitol?

While this blog is about gum, it's important to remember that xylitol is also found in a variety of other foods and products that your dog might eat at any time, including sugar-free candy, peanut butter, toothpaste, chewable vitamins, nasal sprays, sunscreen, deodorant, baby wipes, hair products, and a variety of 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 chewing 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.

However, it's important to keep in mind that dogs eating gum, especially large pieces, can cause intestinal blockage. If your dog exhibits any signs of an intestinal blockage such as lack of energy, reluctance to play, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, constipation, or vomiting, contact your veterinarian right away. These symptoms may take several days to appear.

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.

Do you suspect your dog has eaten chewing gum or another food item containing xylitol? Contact us today to arrange urgent care as soon as possible. 

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At Riverside Veterinary Hospital, we are always accepting new patients. Our veterinary team is passionate about the health and well-being of companion animals in Mandeville. Book your first appointment today.

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