My Dog Ate Gum, What Should I Do?
It’s one of the worst fears every pet owner has. You come home to find torn up gum wrappers on the floor and a puppy-eyed dog staring up at you. If this has never happened to you, you’re probably thinking “Oh no, my dog ate gum, what should I do?”
There are so many things that are perfectly safe for us to consume but if your dog eats it, he could get seriously hurt. And it’s not like you can explain to a dog what will and will not hurt him. They are naturally curious and always looking for something tasty to eat.
Plus, if they see you eating chocolate or chewing gum, chances are they are going to be extra curious about trying it out themselves. So finding out that your dog ate gum does not mean that you are a bad owner or you neglect him too much. It’s a normal situation.
With that in mind, though, your dog eating gum could actually be a serious cause for concern. But it could also be nothing to worry about at all. That probably isn’t making you feel any less anxious. So let’s dig a little deeper into this important topic.
A Quick Warning
Since this is a situation where serious cases are very, very serious, it’s worth putting a quick warning here before we get into the topic:
If your dog really did eat gum just now and you know for a fact that it was sugar free gum, stop reading this article and take your dog to the vet right now. You can continue reading the article while you are waiting at the vet.
Otherwise, keep reading so that you know what you should and what to look for in the future if your dog ever eats gum. You’ll understand why it could be so urgent once you get to the end.
Why You Need to Check the Ingredients in Your Gum
On the bright side, if you chew regular, sugary gum, you don’t need to worry. The gum will pass through your dog’s system without issue. The problem comes with sugar free gum.
Most brands use an artificial sweetener called xylitol in their sugar free gum to give it that sweetness. Xylitol is totally safe for you to consume but, unfortunately, even small amounts can be deadly to your dogs.
The human body can tell the difference between real sugar and xylitol so when xylitol enters our systems, it doesn’t release any extra insulin. However, a dog’s body doesn’t know the difference. When it sees xylitol, it assumes it is sugar and starts releasing a bunch of insulin to process the sugar.
But because it isn’t actually sugar, the insulin can’t do anything to it. This means all that extra insulin just starts working on whatever sugar is there and it starts breaking it down way too quickly.
So your dog’s blood sugar levels will drop rapidly. This is what bodies use to fuel everything so when it is too low, it can start to wreak havoc on the whole body.
Xylitol Toxicity Symptoms to Watch Out For
The symptoms of xylitol toxicity will start to appear about 10-15 minutes after your dog ate the gum. So if you come home and notice your dog acting especially unusual, check if any of his behavior matches the symptoms below. If so, it likely means he recently ate sugar free gum and needs to be taken to the vet.
The symptoms that you want to watch out for include:
- Loss of coordination
- Liver failure
- Internal bleeding
The last two are not really something you can see just by looking at your dog but they are serious symptoms that could be fatal for your dog if not treated. So if you do notice any of the first 4 symptoms in your dog, there is a chance that he is also experiencing the last 2.
The longer xylitol is in your dog’s system, the more damage it will cause. If left untreated for too long, it may even kill your dog. This is why it is so important to take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice these symptoms.
It is even better if you can get them to the vet before the symptoms start (but that is only possible if you catch your dog immediately after he ate gum.
What to Expect at the Vet
When you get to the vet, you may be feeling panicked because you know this is serious. It is important to remain calm. With treatment, your dog has a very high chance of survival. The danger of xylitol toxicity is in leaving it untreated.
So here is what you should expect when you get to the vet:
- Because this is an urgent problem, the vet will probably skip the diagnosis stage and start treatment immediately. Make sure this happens by mentioning “xylitol toxicity” or even just “my dog ate sugar free gum” from the beginning.
- The vet is going to start by monitoring blood sugar levels in your dog very closely.
- The vet will make adjustments as needed to stabilize your dog’s blood sugar.
- In many cases, the vet will try to induce vomiting in your dog to try and get the gum out of his system.
- If it is not possible to get the xylitol gum out of his system, he will likely need to be hospitalized so that the vet can provide IV fluids, liver protecting medication, and keep monitoring and adjusting blood sugar levels. This will have to continue until the gum passes through his system.
All told, this can end up being a very expensive trip to the vet (especially if your dog needs to be hospitalized). So try to prevent this emotional and financial stress by being more careful about your gum.
Either switch to a brand that does not have xylitol in it or make a strong effort to store it in places that your dog definitely cannot reach.