Although your dog eating gum might not seem like a big deal, some chewing gums are toxic to dogs. Our Elk Grove veterinarians explain what to do if your dog eats gum.
The Dangers of Dogs Eating Gum
It might seem like it shouldn't be an issue if your dog ate chewing gum. After all, people swallow gum all the time and it rarely becomes a problem.
The trouble is not the gum itself, but a sweetener often found in sugar-free gum called xylitol, which is highly poisonous for our canine companions. So, you ask, "what happens if a dog eats gum?"
How much Xylitol would my dog need to eat to get sick?
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is highly toxic to dogs and is found in most brands of chewing gum. While not all sugar-free gum contains Xylitol, there's no way of knowing the gum your dog ate off the street has it, so you should treat it as though it does.
Dogs are so sensitive to xylitol that a single stick of gum could be enough to kill a small dog.
In general, about 0.05 grams of xylitol per pound of body weight causes poisoning in dogs. An average piece of chewing gum contains about 0.22-1.0 grams of xylitol. This means that a single piece of gum could poison a 10-pound dog!
What to do if a dog ate gum containing xylitol?
"What do I do if my dog ate gum?!" If your pooch ate gum off the street or ate a piece of your gum which you know contains xylitol, urgent veterinary care is required.
Please head to your nearest animal emergency hospital for urgent care!
What are some signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs?
Dogs are the only animals known to have a toxic reaction to xylitol.
Unlike other species, xylitol is quickly absorbed into your dog's bloodstream upon consumption. The effects of xylitol poisoning take only 30-60 minutes to show. This is why, if your dog has eaten xylitol-containing gum (or anything else), you should 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, these certain symptoms can arise:
- Pale gums
- Loss of consciousness
- Severe liver damage
- Generalized weakness
How will the vet treat my dog for xylitol poisoning?
Although there is no antidote for xylitol poisoning, your veterinarian will closely monitor your dog for at least 12 hours, recording their blood sugar levels and liver function, as well as treating any symptoms as they arise. Depending on your pup's displayed symptoms, treatment may include a glucose solution administered by IV for up to two days to bring their blood sugar levels back to normal.
What other things contain xylitol?
While this blog is about dogs eating gum, it's important to remember that xylitol is also found in a variety of other products that your dog might eat at any time. Some of these items include sugar-free candy, peanut butter, chewable vitamins, toothpaste, nasal sprays, deodorant, sunscreen, baby wipes, hair products, and several human medications.
Contact your vet immediately if your dog eats anything that contains or that you think may contain xylitol.
Is it still an emergency if my dog ate gum that doesn't contain xylitol?
Not all brands of sugar-free gum contain xylitol. Other sugar substitutes like sorbitol, aspartame, and mannitol are not considered to be poisonous to dogs.
However, as a dog owner, keep in mind that dogs eating gum, especially large pieces, can cause intestinal blockage. Signs of intestinal blockage can appear up to several days after consumption. If your dog exhibits any of the following signs of an intestinal blockage, contact your veterinarian right away:
- Lack of energy
- Reluctance to play
- Abdominal pain
- 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.