Never throw your sugarless gum on the ground where a dog can access it! Most sugarless gum contains xylitol, a sweetener that is non-toxic to humans, but a very toxic one to dogs that can cause serious illness and even death. In addition to gum, you might find xylitol in other products like mints, chewable vitamins, cookies, candy and even PEANUT BUTTER! Read the labels before you buy and be sure to keep these products far away from your dog’s reach. If they do ingest any of these items, they should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. Have a question? Get an answer from a Vet now!
Your dog will likely start vomiting after ingesting a product with xylitol. He will likely become quite tired, possibly stumble around and even collapse and have seizures. Depending upon the size of your dog and how much they ate, the ingestion could be fatal if you don’t seek treatment.
After your dog eats xylitol, his body will release insulin. As a result, their glucose level (the amount of sugar in the blood) will drop and cause hypoglycemia which is what causes fatigue and confusion, even seizures. Many other health issues can cause these symptoms – none of which are good and all should be seen by a vet.
Xylitol can cause problems with the blood-clotting mechanisms of a dog’s body, not allowing their blood to clot and making them susceptible to excessive blood loss. Unfortunately, not all dogs who suffer from acute liver failure show signs of illness. And even if they do appear sick, they often get better and seem fine. Liver damage can occur if your dog did ingest xylitol in high doses and the liver tissue will actually start to die.
If you know what your dog got into, bring it to the vet so they know what they are treating for and can determine approximately how much they ate. Your vet will do an initial exam and probably draw blood to determine their blood glucose levels and liver enzyme levels to see if their body’s blood clotting ability is damaged.
If you bring your dog in quickly, the hospital staff might induce vomiting to get as much of the toxin out of the body. Unfortunately, liquid charcoal will not bind with xylitol so it’s not beneficial to your dog. Your dog will likely be hospitalized so that he can be observed by the veterinary technician and can be monitored for his well-being. Fluids will most likely be given through an IV as well as a blood transfusion, if necessary.
The prognosis is good if your dog has only been diagnosed with hypoglycemia with no other complications. It should be resolved within a few days with fluids and supportive care. Acute liver failure and blood-clotting issues require much more treatment and have a much lower rate of a successful outcome. Because these conditions are difficult to treat, it’s important that you get your dog to the vet as soon as possible so that you have the best chance of keeping your best friend around for years to come!