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My dog ate chewing gum - is that dangerous?

Dogs are inquisitive animals that love to explore. Unfortunately, they often do so by ingesting or chewing substances they shouldn't, such as gum. Today, our Leighton vets describe the threat that gum can pose for dogs, and what happens if a dog eats gum.

How dangerous is gum for dogs?

Many foods and substances that humans enjoy can be toxic to our four-legged friends. Most people are aware that chewing gum is one of those substances. Several popular brands of sugar-free chewing gum contain sweeteners such as xylitol. This ingredient is highly poisonous to dogs if ingested. 

How much xylitol does it take to affect a dog?

Xylitol is a low-calorie artificial sweetener commonly found in chewing gum, and it is extremely toxic to dogs. Not all sugar-free chewing gum contains xylitol, so it's not safe to share any gum with your dog. Additionally, you'll have no way of knowing which brand of gum your dog may have licked or ingested off the ground while the two of you are out for a walk. 

The xylitol contained in a single piece of chewing gum is more than enough to cause a severe reaction in 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. Just one piece of chewing gum typically contains between 0.22 and 1.0 grams of xylitol on average. This means that one piece of chewing 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 right away. The vets will likely recommend that you bring your dog in for a physical examination and, possibly, emergency care. A veterinarian can assess your dog's symptoms and treat them as they see fit. 

What happens if a dog eats gum containing xylitol?

As far as veterinarians are aware, dogs are the only animals that seem to have severe reactions to xylitol. Once a dog has consumed chewing gum, it can take as little as 30 – 60 minutes for xylitol's toxic effects to appear. This is why it is critical to bring your dog to the vet as quickly as possible if you suspect they have ingested gum containing xylitol. 

Xylitol poisoning in dogs usually causes extremely low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) due to a significant amount of insulin being released into the body. Once this happens, you will likely notice at least a few of these symptoms:

  • Pale gums 
  • Generalized weakness
  • Lethargy 
  • Stumbling 
  • vomiting
  • Severe liver damage 
  • Seizures 
  • Tremors 
  • 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 people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.

Does your newborn kitten need a checkup? Contact our Leighton vets today to book an appointment.

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Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Leighton animals. We currently only take pets by walk-in, so bring your pet to us today and let us help ensure their well-being.

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