written by Marissa Greenberg, DVM
As many of us try to make healthy choices at the grocery store, there is one that is potentially very toxic to your dog. If you are one who grabs for the sugar-free chewing gum or buy packets of sugar substitute sweetners-beware! The sugar substitute that is in most of these products is called xylitol. Though xytliol is safe in humans, it is very dangerous in dogs. Make sure you don ™t leave your gum in a place that your dog can get to it, as the sweet smell of it can be very tempting.
There are two major side effects that we see in dogs that ingest xylitol containing products. The first is a drop in blood sugar, called hypoglycemia. In dogs, xylitol causes the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin. Insulin is the hormone that helps to regulate your blood sugar levels. If there is too much insulin, the blood sugar levels drop. Each piece of chewing gum contains 1-2 grams of xylitol. In a 20 pound dog, ingesting 1-2 pieces of gum could cause hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can lead to seizures, coma, and even death if left untreated. The other side effect of xylitol can be damage to the liver. This can happen if a 20 pound dog eats about 16 pieces of gum-that could be one pack of gum.
If you know that your dog has ingested xylitol containing products, seek veterinary assistance immediately. Likely, they will make your pet vomit what it has eaten. To be sure that anything they have already digested won ™t cause a problem, your pet will likely be hospitalized for intravenous fluid therapy. This helps to get any of the xylitol that may have been absorbed through their system quicker. They will also monitor your pets blood sugar, likely for at least 24 hours, to be sure that there is no hypoglycemia. A blood sample will likely be evaluated to be sure there are no liver problems as well.
If you are ever concerned about something your dog may have ingested, please don ™t hesitate to call us at Animal Care Clinic at 805-545-8212, or if we are closed, call Central Coast Pet Emergency Clinic at 805-489-6573. You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. There will be a charge for this call. You can also visit their website ( http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/ ) for more information about toxic substances and toxic plants .