What Would Happen if You Give a Dog Gum?

by Naomi Millburn
    Xylitol toxicity can sometimes lead to comas in canines.

    Xylitol toxicity can sometimes lead to comas in canines.

    Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    Veteran dog owners are well aware that the furry creatures aren't always too discriminating about what they put in their mouths, from gym socks to chewing gum. This is why it's so important to make sure your pet never has gum. He has no idea that it's a serious hazard to his health -- but it is.

    Don't give your dog chewing gum -- ever. Chewing gums often contain a sweetener called as xylitol, which is poisonous to dogs. Consumption of xylitol by dogs can lead to a lot of unpleasant health effects within a brief span of time. Because of this, it's crucial to avoid ever giving your dog gum, period. It's also crucial to never store gum in a spot within your pet's reach. As a type of sugar replacement, xylitol is a common component in sugar-free chewing gums. It's available in supermarkets and not only has a flavor like sugar, it looks a lot like it, too. Xylitol isn't exclusively in gum. It's also a typical component in candy, baked items and puddings, for a few examples. Toothpaste sometimes even contains the sweetener.

    If you give your unsuspecting pooch a gum with xylitol, it can reduce his blood sugar in a mere half hour or so. This decrease in blood sugar can bring upon further issues, specifically seizures. In some cases, xylitol intake in dogs can even be fatal. Dogs' bodies don't react the same to xylitol as do those of humans. Xylitol typically doesn't do anything to peoples' blood sugar, but it's a different story with dogs. When xylitol makes its way into a canine's bloodstream, it causes a significant wave of insulin that, in turn, brings upon an abrupt and drastic falling of the animal's blood sugar levels -- hypoglycemia.

    If your pooch has xylitol from chewing gum, hypoglycemia becomes a big risk. Be attentive to any possible indications of this condition. These include widened pupils, lack of balance, falling to the ground, low energy, feebleness and depression. Seizures are also a symptom of particularly extreme instances of hypoglycemia. If your pet has hypoglycemia, you might see him vomiting before anything else. Falling down is also a common early sign of it. Signs of hypoglycemia tend to linger for roughly 12 hours.

    Sizable amounts of xylitol can cause liver failure in dogs. Symptoms of liver failure in canines are often hard to detect, but are nonetheless serious. Typical signs of it are diarrhea, throwing up, no desire to eat and exhaustion. Liver failure symptoms generally emerge between 8 and 12 hours post-consumption. Get immediate veterinary care for any dog who ate chewing gum with xylitol, whether you see symptoms or not. Since xylitol consumption can be life-threatening, fast action is vital.

    Dogs don't have to consume a lot of xylitol to develop clear indications of reduced blood sugar. A sole piece of chewing gum is sometimes all that's necessary. Lone pieces of gum don't always have the same amounts of xylitol, depending on the brand and variety, however. Some have 0.9 mg, while others have upward of 1,000 mg. They run the gamut. 0.1 gram for every 2.2 pounds a dog weighs can bring upon serious hypoglycemia. 1 gram for every 2.2 pounds a dog weighs can bring upon liver necrosis. Never assume that previously chewed gum is safe for dogs, too, as it could still contain a hazardous amount level of xylitol.

    If your dog had chewing gum with xylitol, he needs urgent veterinary assistance, no two ways about it. Once he sees the veterinarian, she can assess him and determine what exact form of management he needs. The goal in these situations often is centered around halting absorption and maintaining typical blood sugar levels. Immediate veterinary management is key for minimizing poisonous consequences.

    Photo Credits

    • Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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