Every dog owner goes through it – you leave your dog along for five seconds and they eat something they shouldn’t! In most cases, this is nothing more than an inconvenience for you and won’t require any further attention (apart from maybe a telling-off for that naughty pup!). However, if you suspect your dog has eaten some chewing gum, you’ll want to read on – it could need some urgent medical attention.
First Things First: Is it Sugar-Free Chewing Gum?
If you suspect your dog has eaten some chewing gum, the first thing to do is to think about whether it was sugar-free gum. Check the wrapper of your gum if possible – if it’s not sugar-free gum, you should be in the clear. It might still cause some digestive problems in your dog if it ate a lot of it, but this should only happen in small dogs, and even then, it’s very unlikely. Keep an eye out for your dog showing signs of discomfort, but you probably won’t need to visit the vets unless your dog has eaten a lot of gum along with the wrappers!
If Your Dog Has Eaten Sugar-Free Gum
Most brands of sugar-free gum contain a sweetener known as xylitol. Xylitol is harmless to humans but it’s highly toxic to dogs. It’s a sugar alcohol that causes your dog’s body to release a massive rush of insulin, causing their blood sugar levels to drop to dangerous levels. This leads to a condition called hypoglycaemia, which can be fatal if it’s untreated. It can also lead to seizures and liver failure in severe cases.
Bear in mind that xylitol can be found in sugar-free sweets and some brands of toothpaste, so be aware if your dog eats any of these things, too. Always keep these things out of reach of mischievous dogs!
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Sugar-Free Gum
If you know your dog has eaten sugar-free gum, check for xylitol on the gum wrapper if you can and take your dog to an emergency vet. Bring the gum wrapper and be sure to let the vet know how many pieces of gum your dog has eaten. This will help the vet figure out how much xylitol is in your dog’s system, as different brands of gum contain different amounts of xylitol.
How Much Sugar-Free Gum is Poisonous to a Dog?
This depends on the size of the dog and the amount of xylitol in the gum. For smaller dogs, only one or two pieces of gum could lead to hypoglycaemia. A fatal dose is 50mg of xylitol per pound of body weight, so if you have a 10lb dog, just 500mg of xylitol could prove lethal.
Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning
Xylitol is incredibly fast-acting, and symptoms can show within 10-30 minutes depending on how much is in the dog’s system. Keep an eye out for any of the following symptoms:
- Dizziness or lack of coordination
How is Xylitol Poisoning Treated?
Vets will diagnose xylitol poisoning very quickly. They can treat the symptoms using sugar supplements and fluids. They might also give the dog some medicine for their liver. Luckily, if the warning signs are spotted early, the vast majority of dogs make a full recovery!
Preventing Your Dog from Eating Chewing Gum
If you’re a dog owner, use your common sense and keep chewing gum, sugar-free sweets, toothpaste, or anything else that contains xylitol well out of reach of your dog. Keep them stored away in safe cupboards. A good solution is to spray these cupboards with some chewing repellent to make sure curious dogs are discouraged from investigating your cupboards – when it comes to your furry friend’s health, it’s better to be safe than sorry!