Bad Things to Eat, Part 2

So, there’s a list a mile long of things your dog shouldn’t be eating, but here’s one you might not be aware of–sugarfree gum. Sugarfree gum contains an artificial sweetener called xylitol, which can be life-threatening to dogs if ingested.  The toxic dose is fairly low, so even a few pieces of gum can be dangerous.  Every gum contains different amounts of xylitol, so some gums (those using exclusively xylitol as a sweetener) may be more toxic.

Xylitol causes high insulin levels in dogs, and therefore, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).  Signs of xylitol toxicity are weakness, collapse, and seizures.  Xylitol can also cause acute liver necrosis, which can result in shock and death.  Dogs with acute liver necrosis may not show the signs of hypoglycemia, instead showing more vague signs–vomiting, lethargy, anorexia, etc.

If your dog has ingested sugar-free gum, it is important to get them to a vet for assessment quickly.  Vomiting may be induced if ingestion is recent, because there is no antidote for xylitol.  Bloodwork will be obtained to assess blood glucose levels and liver enzymes.  Supportive care is the mainstay of treatment–IV fluids to maintain hydration, combined with Dextrose to keep blood sugar at a safe level.  Other treatment will depends on your dog’s clinical signs.

Xylitol is just another example of a product safe for people, that has very different effects on dogs.  Keep any gum in your house out of reach, and contact your vet immediately if you suspect your dog may have eaten some.

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