Were you out walking with your pup and happen to spot them lap up a piece of gum before you could stop them? If so then you may be concerned about the repercussions. Here our Fairhaven vets talk about why gum can be dangerous to dogs and what you should do if your pup ate some when you weren't looking.
Why is Gum Bad For Dogs?
If your dog has accidentally gotten into your gum package and eaten your gum, you are probably wondering what to do next, what to look out for, and if this is an emergency or not.
These are normal things to wonder about because your dog's digestive system is different from humans and gum is not something they should be ingesting. In a lot of cases, your dog will be perfectly fine after a piece of gum and will show no signs at all but there are cases where your dog can become very sick and need to see your Fairhaven vets.
According to the Pet Poison Hotline, xylitol pet poisonings have more than doubled in the last 5 years as we’re seeing a substantial increase in the number of products that use xylitol. In 2020, the number of calls to the helpline concerning xylitol poisoning was second only to chocolate poisoning calls.
What is Xylitol and How is it Used?
- Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, it is a kind of carbohydrate and does not contain alcohol.
- Xylitol is a low-calorie sugar substitute. Research suggests that Xylitol may also improve dental health, prevent ear infections, and possess antioxidant properties.
- Xylitol occurs naturally in small amounts in fruits and vegetables, trees, corncobs, and even the human body.
- Xylitol is a common ingredient in many products, including sugar-free chewing gum and toothpaste. People also use xylitol as a tabletop sweetener or in baking.
- Manufacturers use xylitol as a sugar substitute because its sweetness is similar to table sugar but with fewer calories.
What Are The Main Symptoms of Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs?
The most common symptoms to watch out for after your dog has eaten some gum are:
What Are The Signs of an Emergency After a Dog Eats Gum?
If after eating your gum, your dog starts to become lethargic or weak, collapse or have trouble breathing, pale gums and vomiting or tremors or seizures it is time to bring your dog to Fairhaven right away because these are signs of toxicity and that is an emergency.
Even if your dog is not exhibiting these symptoms it is a good idea to contact New England Animal Hospital to determine the next steps, which may be urgent care. They may want to monitor your dog as a precaution.
While New England Animal Hospital provides urgent care services for established clients on a limited basis, you'll find local emergency veterinary hospitals listed on our Urgent Care page.
What if the gum Your Dog Ate Doesn't Contain Xylitol?
If your dog eats gum without xylitol, your dog may end up with an upset stomach, mainly if it ate a lot of it. You should keep a close eye on your dog because this gum may not be toxic but it does have other potential side effects if eaten including an intestinal blockage. Symptoms of intestinal blockage in your dog include drooling, vomiting, lack of appetite, and abdominal pain.
Since dogs are so curious, you may want to switch to gum without Xylitol in the future to avoid any serious issues.
What to Watch for in the First 30 Minutes to 1 Hour
You will need to watch your dog for about 24 hours after you discover that they have eaten your gum. The first 30 minutes to an hour is when the most serious symptoms will start to happen. The earlier you get your dog checked out by the vet the better chance your dog will not have any serious complications.
It usually takes anywhere from 10-24 hours for something to pass through your dog's digestive system. Gum is almost impossible for the body to break down, so it must pass through your dog's system if swallowed.
If your dog has eaten a lot of gum, it can cause a blockage in your dog's intestines, keeping other food from passing. This happens if your dog also consumes the gum's wrapper or packaging. It could take a few days for the signs of a blockage to become clear to you.
Symptoms of a blockage can include vomiting, abdominal tenderness, constipation, lack of appetite, or unusual behavior, so it can be hard to tell if your dog is sick or has a blockage. If your vet suspects a blockage, X-rays will be needed to determine the extent of the issue. The gum can become stuck; surgery will probably be required if that happens.
If you notice the gum coming out of your dog's bum, do not attempt to pull it out. This could cause serious damage to your dog's intestinal tract. Take your dog to a vet where the object can be removed safely.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.