Dear Porky and Buddy,
Is it true? Sugarless gum can kill my dog? Don’t we have enough things to feel guilty about without having to feel guilty about sugarless gum? No seriously, what do you know about this or is it just another internet rumor?
Clearly you can never have too real or imaginary many things to feel guilty about with your pets – what a silly question.
But this one is real.
The culprit is a natural sweetener called Xylitol which is found in sugar-free gum (including nicotine gum), mints, candy, baked products and beverages.
It is also found in some oral rinses, toothpastes and chewable sugar-free vitamins.
In short, it’s everywhere.
People tolerate it easily, but xylitol can result in severe poisoning in dogs and possibly in cats, in as little as 15 to 30 minutes.
Xylitol poisoning in pets results in a rapid increase in insulin, which leads to a drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
Depending on the dose ingested, clinical signs of hypoglycemia can include vomiting, difficulty walking, weakness and lethargy.
Severe signs include collapse and seizures.
With higher doses, xylitol toxicity can also cause severe, irreversible liver damage.
Clinical signs of liver failure may not be apparent for one to two days, and include vomiting, black-tarry stool, coma, increased liver enzymes, jaundice, clotting problems, coma and even death.
If you suspect or know that your pet ate a product containing xylitol, you should seek immediate veterinary attention and bring your pet to your family vet or the emergency clinic as soon as possible.
By that we mean right away!
Treatment will depend on the timing of ingestion, the time to decontamination, the amount of xylitol ingested by the dog or cat, the clinical signs seen, and the results of the blood work.
But let’s hope this never happens to you or your pets, even though we suspect that your dog probably does things like chew old gum off the floor.
It’s nothing personal. All dogs like sweet yucky stuff on the floor.
So learn to read labels of anything touted as “sugar free.”
There are lots of other sweeteners out there that are harmless—look for xylitol, don’t buy it.
If you already have it in your house, make sure it is completely inaccessible to your pets.
And for goodness sake, when you are finished chewing gum, dispose of it very carefully.
By that we mean, no more sticking it under your chair. No more throwing it out the car window or on the ground.
The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.
Located at 110 W. Second St., Oswego, NY.
Phone: (315) 207-1070.
Email: [email protected]
Because People and Pets Are Good for Each Other.