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What is Toxicity From Gum ?

Although chewing and bubble gum are not inherently toxic to your canine, the addition of the naturally occurring sweetener, Xylitol, can make it extremely dangerous to your pet. The effects of Xylitol poisoning can be quite rapid, often occurring within just 10 to 15 minutes. If you suspect that your dog has eaten anything with Xylitol, it should be treated as an emergency and your veterinarian should be contacted immediately.

The addition of Xylitol (a sugar alcohol used in the place of sugar) to many varieties of chewing and bubble gum has made it a potential hazard to canines. The toxic effects of Xylitol can be fatal in a short amount of time and its ingestion should be treated as an emergency.



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Symptoms of Toxicity From Gum in Dogs

Symptoms from Xylitol poisoning can occur within just a few minutes from ingestion up to around 12 hours after your pet consumed the gum. Xylitol poisoning is very serious, and immediate action should be taken. Coma and death from hypoglycemia or liver failure can occur quickly if left untreated. 

  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Discoordination
  • Jaundice
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Tarry-black stools
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness


Xylitol is present in one or more varieties in the following brands of gum

  • Altoids
  • Epic
  • Glee
  • Ice Breakers
  • Orbit
  • Spree
  • Spry
  • Trident
  • Wrigley’s

This is not an exhaustive list. Dog owners should read ingredient labels to avoid exposure to their pets from Xylitol. Sugar-free gum is more likely to include Xylitol. 

Causes of Toxicity From Gum in Dogs

The danger in eating gum for canines lies in the use of Xylitol as a sweetener. This particular sweetener is a danger to our dogs in two ways.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol and has been proven to be an outstanding sugar substitute for humans as it has fewer calories than sugar and little to no effect on blood sugar or insulin. The effect Xylitol has on the blood sugar levels in a canine is a much different story. Their body interprets the presence of Xylitol as if it were real sugar, which causes a corresponding insulin release. This insulin release can rapidly cause their blood sugar to drop to dangerously low levels. 

It can also cause destruction to the liver tissue itself in large enough doses. The signs for liver necrosis take longer to present than the symptoms related to blood sugar levels, usually around 8 to 12 hours after ingestion. Severe liver damage can occur even in cases where signs of low blood sugar were not previously observed. 

Diagnosis of Toxicity From Gum in Dogs

If you believe your pet has eaten anything with Xylitol, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Hotline. Time is critical in cases of Xylitol toxicity. 

If your dog has consumed something with Xylitol your veterinarian is likely to begin treatment before a definitive diagnosis is made, especially if symptoms of hypoglycemia or liver necrosis are presenting. If you have the packaging for the gum still available, bring it to the veterinarian’s office as well. 

Blood tests and urinalysis of a dog poisoned by Xylitol will likely reveal lowered blood sugar, phosphate and potassium levels. Coagulation times may be increased due to a low platelet count and there may be evidence of bleeding in the gastrointestinal system that will help determine the final diagnosis. 

Treatment of Toxicity From Gum in Dogs

Initial treatment will depend on how long it has been since the gum was ingested and if any symptoms have begun. In almost all cases, your dog will be admitted right away. If the gum was consumed within the last two hours or if there are no symptoms showing vomiting will be induced to prevent the absorption of the Xylitol into the bloodstream. Your dog will then be placed on an IV drip of dextrose to stabilize blood sugar levels as well as fluids to prevent dehydration, and will likely remain in the hospital for at least 24 to 48 hours.

Several blood tests will usually be done over the next few days after ingestion to monitor liver enzymes and blood clotting so that if a liver problem does develop, aggressive action can be taken as quickly as possible. Dogs with liver trouble are likely to be in the hospital for monitoring and treatment for at least 72 hours, and even with aggressive treatments the prognosis is poor.

Recovery of Toxicity From Gum in Dogs

 With timely and appropriate medical support, the prognosis is good for a hypoglycemic response. It will usually require a 24 tp 48 hour hospital stay for monitoring and the regaining of proper fluid balance. You will want to follow any instructions given by your veterinarian for special dietary conditions, as well as keep things calm at home for the first little while.

After your dog's condition has been stabilised and he has been released from the hospital, follow up appointments to check the functioning of the liver over the next few days will be vital. If the dog’s liver becomes necrotic, the likelihood of a positive outcome diminishes greatly even with aggressive treatment. Therefore, a swift diagnosis is advantageous. 

Toxicity From Gum Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

3 Years
Fair condition
1 found helpful
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Is it bad if my dog ate one piece of sugar free gum? It was already chewed before my dog ate it so maybe that took out most of the xylitol but I was wondering if that is still bad for my dog or poisonous. Is it still fatal and should I take her to the vet??

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
Dogs are over a hundred times more sensitive to xylitol than humans and it would be best to either induce vomiting with 3% hydrogen peroxide or visit your Veterinarian immediately; however it is too late for inducing vomiting. Blood sugar levels typically drop quickly with xylitol poisoning so if you haven’t seen any symptoms yet you may be safe. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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8 Months
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Noting yet

My dogs swallowed gum what do I do Her name is Mimi and she is 4 pounds but I saw wrappers but I don't know how much gum she ate please help me my dog has no symptoms and its Ben a day and she hasn't Been sick and I hope she's ok please help

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
Normal chewing gum isn’t too bad for dogs and many times it passes through without incident; if the gum is sugar free and has xylitol (or another artificial sweetener) in it then it is a medical emergency, From your question it sounds like Mimi swallowed the gum yesterday which means that most likely the gum doesn’t contain xylitol since the effects of xylitol poisoning are seen within half an hour; I would keep an eye on Mimi and keep her hydrated, if she starts showing any symptoms listed on this page or the gum did contain xylitol visit your Veterinarian immediately. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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