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My Dog Ate Chewing Gum: Should I be worried?

Dogs eat all sorts of things off the ground and while we don't usually give it too much thought it is important to remember that some substances can be dangerous for them. Our Killen vets talk about the dangers of chewing gum and what to do if your dog ate gum containing xylitol.

Why is it dangerous if my dog ate chewing gum?

Swallowing gum is something that happens to many people at one point or another, and it doesn't usually cause any issues. So why is it such a bad thing if your dog swallows the same types of gum? The answer is in a type of sweetener called xylitol. This sweetener is often used in sugar-free gum and is highly poisonous to dogs. 

How much xylitol does it take to make a dog sick?

Xylitol is incredibly 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. 

If you have a small dog who ate a single piece of gum containing xylitol, it could be fatal. Generally, about 0.05 grams of xylitol per pound of body weight is needed to cause poisoning in dogs. Each piece of chewing gum 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 to Do if My Dog Ate Gum

If your dog ate a piece of chewing gum it is considered a veterinary emergency. Please head to your vet for urgent care or to your nearest emergency animal hospital in Killen

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 ate gum or anything else that may contain xylitol.

How to Prevent Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

Check the products in your home that contain sweeteners for xylitol. If you find anything that does contain this substance, make sure that you put it somewhere that your dog has no chance of reaching. 

Overall, some of the ways that you can help prevent your dog from ingesting xylitol include:

  • Keep all items or foods containing xylitol out of your dog's reach. Remember, many dogs can climb, so counters aren't safe.
  • Only use pet-safe toothpaste to brush your dog's teeth. Human toothpastes contain many ingredients that aren't safe for pets.
  • Always check all types of nut butter for xylitol before giving them to your dog.

Is it still an emergency if my dog eats 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 our vets in Killen today to arrange urgent care as soon as possible. 

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Center Star Veterinary Services offers walk-in veterinary services. Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Killen companion animals. Get in touch today to learn more about our services.

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