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My Dog Ate Gum: Is That Dangerous?

My Dog Ate Gum: Is That Dangerous?

Dogs are curious animals that often explore their world using their mouths. Unfortunately, this sometimes means they ingest substances they shouldn't, such as gum. Our Vancouver vets discuss why gum is toxic to dogs and what you should do if you notice that your dog ate chewing gum.

Why is Gum Dangerous for Dogs to Eat?

There are many substances people ingest every day without issue that are highly toxic to our dogs. Chewing gum is one of those substances. Many popular brands of sugar-free chewing gum contain sweeteners such as xylitol, which is highly poisonous to dogs. 

How Much Xylitol Does It Take for My Dog to Have a Toxic Reaction? 

The low-calorie artificial sweetener xylitol is commonly used in chewing gum. It is also extremely toxic to dogs. While not all sugar-free gum is sweetened with xylitol, you'll have no way of knowing which brand of gum your dog may have licked off of the sidewalk while you were out for your daily exercise. 

It only takes the amount of xylitol contained in a single piece of gum to have a detrimental effect on a dog's internal system. 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 just one piece of gum can easily poison a 10-pound dog. 

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Gum?

If you notice that your dog ate chewing gum, contact your nearest emergency veterinary clinic. A veterinarian will likely recommend bringing your dog in for physical examination and emergency care. A veterinarian can treat symptoms as they arise.

What Happens if a Dog Eats Gum With Xylitol?

As far as we're aware, dogs happen to be the only animals for which xylitol is known to cause severe toxic reactions. Once ingested, it takes as little as 30 – 60 minutes for toxic effects to begin to appear in your dog. This makes it critical to bring your dog to the vet right away if they've eaten gum or any other substances that may contain xylitol. 

Xylitol ingestion in dogs usually leads to extremely low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) caused by a massive release of insulin into the body. Once this occurs, your dog may start to display any or all of the following symptoms:

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

How is Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs Treated?

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.

The vet can immediately treat 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 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 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 arise.

Signs of an intestinal blockage can take several 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.

Has your dog eaten gum or any other unsafe substances? Contact our Vancouver vets right away to have your pup examined.

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Columbia River Veterinary Specialists is accepting new patients by referral and for emergency services. Our experienced emergency vets  and specialists are passionate about the health of Vancouver companion animals. Ask your vet today about a referral.

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