So, it’s happened. You were chewing some gum, set the package on the table, and before you knew it your dog ate gum. Is this something to worry about?
If your dog ate standard, sugary gum, then it will likely just pass out of their body within 12 to 24 hours– unless it’s a whole lot of gum and it was swallowed with other items that could stick to it and cause intestinal blockage. If it’s sugar-free gum with Xylitol, however, you need to get them to the vet NOW.
In this article we’re going to tell you more about when you need to worry about gum-eating and why sugar-free gum is so dangerous. While it seems harmless, dog’s have a different physiology from us, so read on to get important facts that you need to know about gum and your dog!
Table of Contents
Is chewing gum a choking hazard?
While a large enough volume of gum (say a pouch-style packaged gum, rather than sticks) could conceivably be a choking hazard, more often than not this isn’t going to be an issue. The bigger danger is that the gum is hard to digest, so it will be spending a lot of time in your dog’s body before it passes.
That means that if your dog swallows a bunch of sunflower seeds or other things, they could in turn stick to the gum, and this might cause intestinal blockage later that requires the help of your vet to fix.
With non sugar-free gum, this is the biggest worry, but if it’s the sugar-free variety then you need to find out immediately if the gum is sweetened with Xylitol – it will be on the package and it’s vital that you check for this, as Xylitol can actually kill your dog!
Sugar-free gum with Xylitol – what you need to know
Xylitol is a sweetener that is found in many sugar-free gums, but also in a number of other products on the market. You’ll find it in sugar-free breath mints and assorted candies, some fruit drinks, toothpastes, peanut butter, pastries, and more – and it’s something that you’ll want to watch out for.
While it can also make cats sick if enough is ingested, this chemical is especially dangerous for dogs. That’s because while humans can ingest it safely, in a dog’s body the Xylitol quickly stimulates the production of insulin.
This can cause an instant case of low blood sugar, making your dog hypoglycemic, and worst of all, it can happen very quickly – often within 10 to 60 minutes of ingestion.
Due to this enormous and potentially deadly risk, if you even suspect that your dog has eaten something with Xylitol in it, then it’s vital go get them to the vet immediately. Every second counts when it comes to this artificial sweetener – it’s really THAT toxic for canines.
How much Xylitol gum is considered toxic?
Xylitol is extremely toxic, so much so that 50 milligrams per every pound of your dog’s body weight is considered to be a dangerously toxic amount. To give you an idea of how little that is, a single stick of gum may have as much as 10 milligrams of Xylitol in it.
Even this one stick may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and intense stomach discomfort, but as we tend to buy gum in large packs and your dog isn’t just going to pull out one stick, the potential of Xylitol poisoning becomes a very scary possibility.
If your dog gets into any gum, it’s best to get them to the vet post-haste before the Xylitol can become a risk for hypoglycemia. Even if your dog seems okay, symptoms can sometimes take 12 to 24 hours to show, and during that time they could be harming your dog in the process.
Get your dog to the vet right away and get it handled – Xylitol is simply too toxic where your dog is concerned and waiting on this could have tragic results, such as hypoglycemia, liver failure, and potentially death.
Typically, your vet is going to try to counter the possibility of Hypoglycemia first, as this is going to be the biggest danger for your dog with Xylitol ingestion. This will generally involve mediation to help strengthen and protect the liver and they will likely need to monitor your dog’s blood sugar until it’s safe.
IV fluids will typically be administered, as well, in order to keep your dog at the proper levels of electrolytes during the treatment. While there is a possibility that your dog will be okay if it was a very small amount, it’s still not a good idea to wait – especially with older or small dogs.
The presence of Xylitol in their bodies is going to seriously tax their liver at the very least and the damage done during this time may well shorten your dog’s life expectancy, even if it doesn’t seem severe right away.
While vets often give activated charcoal to dogs for cases of poisoning, with Xylitol this is actually not the case, as the charcoal is only an additional contaminant in this scenario. Since the danger has to do with insulin spikes, we cannot stress enough that your vet is going to be needed with this – it’s not something treatable at home.
Some closing comments on gum and your dog
In today’s article we’ve talked about what to do if your dog ate gum, and if it’s a simple case of your pooch pilfering regular, sugar-packed gum, then it should be fine if it’s not a regular occurrence nor a high volume of gum. In such cases, the offending candy should simply pass through their stool within 12 – 24 hours.
With sugar-free gum, however, you need to determine if the sweetener in the gum is Xylitol and if it is, then you need to drop whatever you are doing and get your dog in to the vet right away. Xylitol poisoning is quite treatable and most dogs should recover from this with vet assistance.
So, don’t panic – just get your dog to the vet now and get this treated – and after that, just start hiding the gum because your dog definitely can’t have any!