Dogs will eat nearly anything if given the opportunity. Unfortunately, this can mean eating something potentially toxic like gum. Our Los Angeles vets talk about what happens if a dog eats gum, including the dangers and the steps you should take if your dog recently ate chewing gum.
What happens if a dog eats gum?
While we may not give it much thought, several different foods and substances are perfectly safe for us but can have serious implications if eaten by our canine companions. One common example of this type of 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 gum is going to contain xylitol and be toxic, you may not know for sure what type of gum your dog ate, especially if it happened on a walk or outside playing.
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 grams of xylitol per piece! This means that a 10-pound dog could be poisoned by just one piece of gum.
What should I do if my dog ate gum with xylitol?
If you witnessed your dog ate chewing gum then the first step you should take is to contact your nearest veterinary emergency clinic.
If you did not see your dog eat gum but have noted the symptoms listed below, you should also bring them to the nearest emergency vet.
What are the symptoms of Xylitol poisoning in dogs?
As far as we know, dogs are the only animals that xylitol is toxic when ingested.
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 cannot 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, and 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 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 several 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 my dog ate chewing gum that doesn't contain xylitol?
While xylitol can be a popular type of sweetener in sugar-free gum, not all brands will 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 eats 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 listed above arise.
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.