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My Dog Ate Gum: Is it dangerous?

Dogs love to chomp on anything they can find. Unfortunately, sometimes what they find is actually toxic for them like gum containing xylitol. Our Lacey vets discuss what happens if a dog eats chewing gum, when it's an emergency and the steps you should take.

My Dog Ate Chewing 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. 

What is xylitol and why is it dangerous?

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 a 10-pound dog could be poisoned by just one piece of gum.

What to Do if My Dog Ate Chewing Gum

If you witness your dog eating chewing gum, the first step is to contact your nearest veterinary emergency clinic.

If you did not see your dog eat gum but noted the symptoms below, you should also bring them to the nearest emergency vet.

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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, the toxic effects begin to show in your dog in as little as 30-60 minutes. 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:

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

What can be done for dogs with xylitol poisoning?

Unfortunately, xylitol poisoning cannot be cured. If your dog experiences it, your vet will monitor it 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.

What other substances or foods 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 our emergency veterinary hospital.

What if the gum my dog ate doesn't contain xylitol?

While xylitol can be a popular sweetener in sugar-free gum, not all brands contain it. 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 listed above arise.

How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Gum

Dogs love to eat, and they will eat most things they find on the ground. This is why it is important to dog-proof your house. Put any that may contain xylitol away in a cupboard or enclosed space. Make sure that you also dispose of previously chewed gum or wrappers properly and that your dog does not have access to your garbage.

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.

If your dog has ingested anything that isn't safe, please contact our Lacey vets right away to have your dog examined.

Walk-in Patients Welcome

At Olympia Pet Emergency, you can always access our full complement of emergency services without an appointment. We treat both walk-in patients and referrals for urgent veterinary care.

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