What Are the Effects if a Dog Swallows Gum?

by Elizabeth Muirhead
Keep gum away from your pooch.

Keep gum away from your pooch.

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Depending on the type of gum he finds, your dog can become very ill after eating some. Any chewing gum can be a choking hazard, but sugar-free chewing gums containing xylitol -- a sugar-alcohol -- can cause hypoglycemia or liver damage.

Xylitol Consumption

Hypoglycemia, or decreased blood sugar, can occur when your dog eats more than 35 milligrams of xylitol per pound of body weight. Liver damage occurs if your dog eats more than 227 milligrams per pound. That may make it seem like Fido would need to eat a lot, but a stick of sugar-free gum can have up to 0.4 gram of xylitol in it. If Fido is a Yorkie, less than two sticks of gum could trigger hypoglycemia.

Signs of Hypoglycemia

If Fido eats enough gum, you may notice signs of hypoglycemia develop quickly. A dog’s body, unlike other mammals', produces insulin in the presence of xylitol. You may notice your dog stumbling, falling over, having seizures or go into a coma. Immediate treatment is necessary to prevent further complications.

Signs of Liver Damage

Scientists haven’t been able to determine why liver damage occurs. It can take more than 12 hours to notice signs of liver failure, including yellow or icteric gums or depression. Your veterinarian can run blood tests to evaluate your dog’s liver enzyme values, which may indicate dysfunction. Decreased platelets and elevated phosphorus levels may be found in testing. Not every dog that develops low blood sugar will develop liver damage, and not every dog with liver damage previously showed signs of hypoglycemia.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Muirhead is a practicing veterinarian with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. She has real-world experience with the husbandry, grooming, training and feeding a variety of household pets.

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