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My Dog Ate Gum: Is That Dangerous?

Dogs are curious animals that love to explore, unfortunately, they often do so by chewing or ingesting unknown objects, such as gum. Today, our Concord vets discuss the threat that gum can pose for dogs, and what happens if a dog eats gum.

How Dangerous Is Gum for Dogs?

There are plenty of substances and foods that are fine for humans to eat but are toxic to our canine companions. Most people are aware that 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 if they are to ingest it. 

How Much Xylitol Does It Take to Impact a Dog?

The low-calorie artificial sweetener, xylitol, is commonly used in chewing gum and happens to be extremely toxic to dogs. Not all sugar-free gum is sweetened with xylitol, so you can't prevent your dog from eating gum that contains it at home. However, you'll have no way of knowing which brand of gum your dog may have licked or ingested off the ground while you're out for a walk. 

It only takes the amount of xylitol contained in a single piece of gum to have a severe impact on a dog's internal system. Typically, the dose of xylitol required to cause poisoning in dogs is about 0.05 grams per pound of their body weight. One piece of chewing gum typically contains about 0.22 – 1.0 grams of xylitol on average. This means that a single piece of gum can easily poison a 10-pound dog. 

What to Do If My Dog Ate Gum?

If you notice that your dog ate chewing gum, contact your nearest urgent veterinary clinic right away. It will likely be recommended that you bring your dog in for physical examination and possible emergency care. A veterinarian can examine your dog's symptoms and treat them as they see fit.

What Happens If a Dog Eats Gum Containing Xylitol?

As far as veterinarians know, the only animals that seem to have severe reactions to xylitol, just so happen to be dogs. Once consumed, it can take as little as 30 – 60 minutes for the toxic effects of xylitol to appear in a dog. This is why it is so important to bring your dog to the vet as quickly as possible if you suspect they have ingested gum with xylitol in it. 

Xylitol poisoning in dogs usually causes extremely low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) due to a substantial release of insulin into the body. Once this occurs, you will likely notice at least a few of the following symptoms:

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

Treating Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

Unfortunately, there is no cure for xylitol poisoning once it has developed. Your dog should be monitored by a vet for at least 12 hours, keeping a close eye on their blood sugar levels and liver function.

If any concerning symptoms come up, your vet can treat them appropriately. Depending on your dog's symptoms, they may require IV treatment containing a glucose solution for up to two days to stabilize their blood sugar levels.

Other Substances That Contain Xylitol

While gum may be the most common way that dogs ingest xylitol, you should also be aware that xylitol is used in various other foods and products that your dog could get into. Other foods and substances containing xylitol include 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 substance you think may 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.

Keep in mind that the ingredients are not the only concern you should have if your dog eats gum. Intestinal blockages are also seen in dogs that have consumed gum.

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. Monitor your dog carefully for any signs of an intestinal blockage and contact your vet immediately if symptoms 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.

Has your dog recently eaten gum or another concerning food or substance? Contact our Concord vets to get your pup the immediate care they need.

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