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What should I do if my dog ate chewing gum?

Although your dog eating gum might not seem like a big deal, some chewing gums are toxic to dogs. If your dog ate gum, our Bellevue veterinarians explain what to do.

The Dangers of Dogs Eating Gum

It seems like it shouldn't be a big deal if your dog happens to eat chewing gum, after all, people swallow gum all the time and it rarely becomes a problem.

The trouble is that when it comes to our canine companion xylitol, a common sweetener in sugar-free gum is highly poisonous for dogs.

How much xylitol would my dog need to eat to get sick?

Xylitol is a low-calorie artificial sweetener that is highly toxic to dogs and is found in many brands of chewing gum.

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 is required to cause poisoning in dogs. Each 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.

To keep xylitol out of dogs' reach, store it in closed cabinets or on high shelves. Furthermore, familiarize yourself with common household items that may contain xylitol to ensure you are aware of any potential risks to your dog.

What to do if my dog ate gum containing xylitol?

If so, urgent veterinary care is required. Please head to your nearest animal emergency hospital for urgent care!

What happens if a dog eats gum with xylitol in it?

Dogs are the only animals known to have a toxic reaction to xylitol.

Xylitol is quickly absorbed into your dog's bloodstream once eaten, and the effects of xylitol poisoning take only 30-60 minutes to manifest. This is why, if your dog has eaten xylitol-containing gum (or anything else), you should take them to the vet right away.

In dogs, xylitol ingestion typically results in extremely low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which is caused by a massive release of insulin into the body. Once this happens, symptoms like:

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

How will the vet treat my dog for xylitol poisoning?

Although there is no cure for xylitol poisoning, your veterinarian will closely monitor your dog for at least 12 hours, checking blood sugar levels and liver function and treating any symptoms that appear (symptoms may include weakness, staggering, and seizures). Depending on your dog's symptoms, treatment may include giving him an IV glucose solution for up to two days to help restore his blood sugar levels to normal.

What other things contain xylitol?

While this post is about gum, keep in mind that xylitol can be found in a variety of other foods and products that your dog eat, such as sugar-free candy, peanut butter, toothpaste, chewable vitamins, nasal sprays, sunscreen, deodorant, baby wipes, hair products, and various human medications.

If your dog consumes anything that may or does contain xylitol, get in touch with your veterinarian right away.

Is it still an emergency if my dog ate gum that doesn't contain xylitol?

Not all brands of sugar-free gum contain xylitol. Sugar substitutes such as sorbitol, aspartame, and mannitol are not considered to be poisonous for dogs.

However, it is important to note that dogs eating gum, especially large pieces, can cause intestinal blockages. If your dog exhibits any of the following signs of an intestinal blockage, please contact your veterinarian right away.

  • Vomiting 
  • Lack of energy
  • Reluctance to play
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Constipation
  • 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.

Contact our vets at Sawtooth Animal Center in Bellevue right away if your dog has eaten anything with xylitol in it.

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