What Happens If a Dog Eats Gum? All Things You Need To Know
Our dogs are inquisitive creatures, always on the quest of discovering different portions around the house. Often these places may be the ones that are prohibited and contain products that are unsafe for dogs; one such place is the kitchen.
Now you may think that the kitchen usually has food items what could be so dangerous about it? Well although many human foods are safe for dogs, few can be toxic.
Among the list of edible, poisonous items is chewing gum. The problem with gum is that we keep it almost everywhere around the house from our bags to our room and it can be toxic in the smallest of quantities.
This article will talk about why gum can be dangerous and how should you handle such a dog emergency.
Why is Gum Toxic?
Many household products such as gums (especially the sugar-free kinds), candies, chocolate, jam, mints, syrups, flavored drinks and even dental products contain a compound called xylitol.
Xylitol is a sweetener and its primary source is corncob. It is a 5- carbon sugar alcohol with a crystalline structure. Regular varieties of gum also contain xylitol in small quantities, but the sugar-free kinds contain high amounts.
Why is Xylitol Dangerous?
Since it is an artificial sweetener, it causes insulin to spike up thus causing the blood sugar to drop; the condition is called Hypoglycemia. It can lead to lethargy, vomiting, collapse, seizures and in severe cases may even cause liver failure.
Consumption of xylitol in quantities greater than 0.1 gram of per kilogram of your dog's body weight can cause hypoglycemia whereas doses higher than 0.5 gram can cause liver failure.
You may think that is a lot but the commonly available chewing gums contain quantities of the compound between the ranges of 300 to 1500 milligram per piece. Apart from the side-effects gum is also a choking hazard for dogs, so it isn’t safe at all.
After the ingestion of gum, your dog may display symptoms in about half an hour whereas it may also take up to a day in other cases.
If your pooch doesn’t indicate such signs, don’t make the mistake of assuming he will be okay and contact the veterinarian immediately. The common indications would be:
Bleeding may also occur in the intestines, abdomen or stomach. In a few circumstances, your dog’s gums may turn pale. You may even notice dark red smears or spots on your pup’s gums. All these are indications of danger.
I Found Out That My Dog Ate Gum, What Should I Do Now?
If you just discovered that your dog has ingested gum, try to find the packaging to know the ingredients and determine the quantity of chewing gum that your pup consumed. Next up either call your local veterinarian’s clinic or the Animal Poison Control Centre’s Helpline.
Here is the number if you don’t have it (888) 426-4435. I would suggest noting down both the numbers and keeping them safe in your pup’s first-aid kit. The operator at the helpline will inquire about your dog’s condition, the type of gum he ingested- whether it was sugar-free or not.
They would also ask questions regarding your dog’s age, breed, weight, and size. After assessing the condition, they will either ask you to induce vomiting or will tell you to bring the dog to the clinic.
Keep a small amount of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide in your dog’s first-aid kit in case of emergencies like these. Usual dosage recommendations are 1 ml per pound of your dog’s body weight.
However, the maximum dosage that can be given at a time is 45ml. You should still ask the operator at the helpline for dosage instructions.
If your dog ate the sugary variety of gum, the chances of poisoning aren’t high, but it still is dangerous. If ingested in large amounts particularly with the foil, it may cause blockage in the intestine.
The risks for obstructions or blockages are higher for small dogs, so keep an eye on your pooch. The symptoms of intestinal obstruction are vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, and dehydration.
If your dog did ingest sugar-less gum, check out the ingredients as many gums contain other sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, etc. These varieties aren’t toxic like xylitol so you wouldn’t have to worry, but I would still recommend getting an opinion from the vet.
If your dog had gum that was chewed, most of the xylitol would have been removed. Or if your pup ate a tiny quantity less than even a piece, it still won’t be as toxic. BUT I would reiterate the fact that you should discuss it with your vet.
In case of any instance of poisoning, time is crucial as the severity of the situation increases with time. In any situation take the necessary steps as soon as you find out what your dog has eaten.
It is natural for dog-parents to panic in such cases, but you need to maintain your calm so you can think clearly without wasting any time.
Treatment of Xylitol Poisoning
Your vet may ask you to bring the dog to the clinic, mainly if the gum was sugar-free to monitor the dog’s glucose levels. The vet will also keep a tab on your pup’s vitals and liver values.
Once all tests are done, and your vet administers the necessary treatment, your dog will be held under observation to be sure of the condition. When your pup stabilizes, he will be released, and the vet will brief you if there are any precautionary steps or guidelines for you to follow.
To prevent your dog from risking his life, keep all gums, candies and other compounds containing xylitol locked in cabinets. Even if such items are packed in boxes, our furry friends are smart enough to open the packaging and get what they want.
Take all the precautions that you can. But at the same time, it is always better to be prepared for such emergencies, mentally as well as physically. The best thing to do is to get affordable pet insurance for dogs that would cover the medical expenses.
Jenny Perkins is an Animal Behavior Specialist and a passionate writer. She loves to write about the nutrition, health, and care of dogs. She aims at providing tips to dog owners that can help them become better pet parents. She writes for the blog Here Pup.