My Dog Ate Gum and Seems Fine – What Should I Do?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Some gums contain xylitol which is highly toxic to dogs. 
  • It may only take 1 piece of gum to poison a small dog.
  • If your dog ate any gum, remove any remaining pieces from his reach and contact your veterinarian immediately.

Your daughter has some friends over, and they’re outside playing with the dog. When your furbaby comes in, you notice he’s chewing on something. You call him over to investigate and take some gum out of his mouth. What do you do next?

If your pooch swipes a piece or pack of gum, you should remove what’s left immediately and contact your veterinarian. 

In this article, we’ll explain why gum can be very dangerous for dogs and what you should do if your pup ate or is chewing on some gum. We’ll discuss why some brands of gum are toxic to dogs and the signs you might see if your dog is poisoned by eating gum. 

To help you prepare for your visit with the vet, we’ll explain how the doctor will treat your dog after he eats gum and the expected recovery time.

Let’s get going.  

How Much Gum Is Toxic to Dogs?

Gum may seem like a harmless treat for dogs because humans can eat it without trouble. But think again. 

Some brands of sugarless gum contain xylitol as a sweetener, and this substance is extremely toxic for dogs. Other sugarless varieties rely on wood alcohols to sweeten the treat. While these are generally recognized as safe for dogs to ingest, they may cause gastric upset.

The bottom line is that if your dog consumes gum that contains xylitol, it can be serious trouble. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, it takes about 0.05 grams of xylitol per pound of body weight to poison a dog. Most gums and breath mints with xylitol have 0.22 – 1 gram of xylitol per piece. That means one piece of gum could be enough to poison a 5-20 pound dog.

If the gum contains xylitol as a sweetener, one piece can be dangerous for small dogs. Based on the toxic dose per pound and the amount of xylitol in gum, a single stick is enough to poison a 5-20 pound dog. 

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Gum?

If you see your dog chewing gum or suspect he ate one or more sticks, you should:

  • Check for evidence and remove any remaining gum. 
  • Try to figure out the brand and type of gum. This is easy if you’re at home and find wrappers or only have one type of gum in the house. It may be more difficult if your pup snarfs a piece of discarded chewing gum off the sidewalk when you’re walking him.
  • Contact your veterinarian immediately. 
    • Let the doctor know your dog ate gum. 
    • Report approximately how much, when it occurred, and the brand(if you know)
    • Relay any signs or symptoms in your dog
  • Follow your veterinarian’s instructions

If you saw your pooch eat gum or suspect he did, you need to remove any gum from his access. Figure out what brand of gum he ate if possible. Call your veterinarian immediately and report what happened. Based on the details you offer the doctor, he’ll advise you about what to do next.

What You Should Do Immediately If You Suspect Your Dog Has Been Poisoned by Gum

If you suspect your dog ate gum and it’s likely to contain xylitol, you should immediately take away any remaining gum. This includes taking gum out of her mouth if she’s compliant. Time is of the essence. You want to reduce the exposure your dog has to the toxin and get help as soon as possible.

Call your veterinarian right away and let him know what happened. Be prepared to give as many details as you know.

  • How much gum was eaten
  • When your dog ate it
  • What brand or type of gum 
  • Any symptoms you’ve observed in your dog

The two main things you should do immediately if you suspect your dog ate gum is to remove any remaining gum from her access and contact your veterinarian. The less exposure your pup has to any toxins, the better. Be ready to give your pup’s doctor details about the incident.

What if My Dog Ate a Lot of Gum But Is Acting Normal?

So, your pooch snagged a whole pack or bag of gum, but you don’t see any unusual symptoms. Are you in the clear? Not necessarily.

While the effects and signs of xylitol poisoning can appear within 15-60 minutes, it may also take hours to surface. It depends on the substrate that’s carrying the xylitol. Some gums release the chemical to your dog’s system more slowly. If you wait until you see symptoms, the damage may already be done. Your best bet for rapid recovery is early intervention and treatment.

Even if your dog shows no symptoms of poisoning, it’s best to call your veterinarian as soon as possible. The signs of toxicity usually show up in an hour or less, but not always. It depends on how quickly the chemical gets out of the gum and into your dog’s gut.

Signs of Xylitol Poisoning from Gum

When your dog eats gum with xylitol, the chemical triggers the pancreas to release a burst of insulin. This causes hypoglycemia. As a result, you might see:

  • Weakness and collapse
  • Ataxia or stumbling
  • Body tremors or seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma or death

If a dog consumes gum with xylitol, the chemical may cause a sudden drop in blood sugar or hypoglycemia. Signs owners observe include weakness, vomiting, tremors, collapse, coma, and death.

What Happens to Dogs When They Eat Gum With Xylitol?

As dogs consume gum with xylitol, the chemical enters the gastrointestinal tract. From there, it’s rapidly absorbed through the stomach lining and enters your pup’s circulatory system. Then this wood alcohol signals the pancreas to dump insulin into the bloodstream. 

Insulin promotes glucose absorption. When a large bolus of the hormone hits the bloodstream, it tells the body to take up glucose and deposit it in cells and organs for energy. This causes a precipitous drop in blood glucose known as hypoglycemia. 

Once xylitol enters the stomach, it’s rapidly absorbed into the blood. The chemical tells the pancreas to dump insulin. The hormone in turn triggers glucose uptake and causes hypoglycemia.

Why Is Xylitol in Gum Toxic to Dogs?

Xylitol is a wood alcohol that’s commonly used as a substitute sweetener in sugarless gums. It has a sweet taste and cooling effect that appeals to dogs. Unfortunately, canines can’t digest this chemical, and its effects can be life-threatening.

When xylitol enters the bloodstream, it triggers a rapid release of insulin from your dog’s pancreas. The hormone causes a sudden drop of glucose in the blood known as hypoglycemia. If the condition goes untreated, it can lead to coma or death. Larger doses can also cause liver damage, but the mechanism for this effect is unclear.

Dogs can’t digest the wood alcohol xylitol. When this substance enters the blood, it triggers a cascade of events that leads to hypoglycemia. The sudden drop in blood sugar can be life-threatening. Large doses of xylitol can also cause liver damage, but we don’t know how it works.

How Will My Vet Treat Xylitol Poisoning From Gum?

When you know or suspect that your dog ate gum that may contain xylitol, it’s imperative to get treatment as soon as possible. Remove any remaining gum and call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline(800-213-6680) immediately. 

Once in the clinic, your veterinarian will usually induce vomiting to evacuate your dog’s stomach contents and minimize exposure to the toxin. Activated charcoal doesn’t seem to be effective with xylitol. 

If your dog is showing signs of hypoglycemia, or after he’s done throwing up, the doctor will hospitalize your pooch for 12-24 hours for monitoring and treatment. During this time, the vet will take blood samples every few hours to check glucose and potassium levels. He’ll also administer IV fluids with dextrose as needed and may give him liver-protecting drugs. Your dog will also get any other supportive care that he needs.

In the clinic, your veterinarian will induce vomiting to reduce exposure to the toxin. After that, he’ll monitor your pup’s blood sugars and potassium levels. If needed, he’ll give IV fluids with dextrose, liver-protecting medications, and other supportive care.

How Long Will it Take for My Dog to Recover From Eating Gum With Xylitol?

The prognosis and recovery for your dog depend on how much xylitol he ate and the severity of the symptoms. Dogs that have mild hypoglycemia and receive early treatment usually have a favorable prognosis. Blood glucose levels should stabilize in 24 hours or more.

When liver damage is involved, the prognosis and recovery period are less favorable. Mild increases in liver enzymes often fare well and recover in a matter of days. However, pups with a sharp rise in enzymes or signs of liver insufficiency have a guarded or poor prognosis. As many as 62.5% of the dogs die or need to be euthanized. The survivors require prolonged treatment.

Dogs with minor symptoms of hypoglycemia can recover in 24 hours or more. If there’s mild liver damage, the recovery is several days. Pups that have sharp increases in liver enzymes or signs of liver insufficiency require prolonged treatment if they survive, but the prognosis is guarded.

The Final Woof

When gum contains xylitol as a sweetener, it’s dangerous to dogs. Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. Most brands of gum that use this wood alcohol have enough of the chemical in one piece to be toxic to dogs weighing between 5 and 20 pounds. If your dog ate gum, you should contact your veterinarian immediately to start treatment as soon as possible.

Xylitol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and can cause severe hypoglycemia and liver damage. Untreated, the effects of the toxin are life-threatening. Signs of poisoning include vomiting, lethargy, weakness, coma, and death. 

When you take your dog to the vet, he’ll induce vomiting then begin treatment and supportive care. The prognosis and recovery period will depend on the amount of gum your dog ate and the severity of symptoms before treatment.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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