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Is Chewing Gum Toxic to Your Pet?

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Can something as common as chewing gum be toxic? The answer is yes. According to the Animal Poison Control Center, last year they managed over 170 sick pets after eating products containing Xylitol.

Xylitol is a sugar-alcohol sweetener found in sugar-free human food products such as chewing gum, candy, baked goods as well as other products. Dogs that eat significant amounts can develop a sudden drop in blood sugar, which can cause weakness, lethargy, loss of coordination, collapse and seizures.

Symptoms can begin in as little as 30 minutes and last hours. It is recommended that pets that experience symptoms be taken to a veterinarian or local emergency clinic for evaluation. Treatment may include hospitalization and intravenous fluids with dextrose supplementation. Some pets can remain symptomatic and may maintain a low blood sugar for several hours. Recent studies also suggest that there is a strong link between xylitol ingestion and the development of liver failure in dogs.

In humans, xylitol has little to no effect on plasma insulin or glucose levels, but in dogs Xylitol is a strong promoter of insulin release thus is more likely to cause symptoms.*

To prevent toxicity, do not feed your pet human products sweetened with Xylitol. Minimize pet exposure to any area where you may store candy or gum. Many dogs have gotten exposure by getting into purses ande handbags where gum is kept, so make sure you keep purses secure.

Most problems have occurred in dogs because they are less discriminating eats than are cats. With the increased use of Xylitol in human products, Xylitol toxicity may become more common.


*Reference:

"Hypoglycemia following canine ingestion of xylitol-containing gum." Vet Hum Toxicol 46[2]:87-8 2004 Apr Dunayer EK.


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