BEWARE - Chewing Gum Can Be Deadly For Your Dog
People are normally aware of the dangers of chocolate and anti-freeze in pets but what about sugar free chewing gum? Most chewing gum brands use an artificial sweetener called xylitol in their sugar free gum to give it that sweetness. Xylitol is mostly safe for you to consume but, unfortunately, even small amounts can be deadly to your dogs.
The human body can tell the difference between real sugar and xylitol so when xylitol enters our systems, it doesn’t release any extra insulin. However, a dog’s body doesn’t know the difference. When it sees xylitol, it assumes it is sugar and starts releasing a bunch of insulin to process the sugar.
But because it isn’t sugar, the insulin can’t do anything to it. This means all that extra insulin just starts working on whatever sugar is there and it starts breaking it down way too quickly.
So, your dog’s blood sugar levels will drop rapidly. This is what bodies use to fuel everything so when it is too low, it can start to wreak havoc on the whole body.
Called hypoglycemia, this condition can set in within 10 minutes to an hour of eating xylitol. In other cases, though, it can take up to 24 hours for symptoms to appear. Xylitol poisoning can be fatal, but with quick treatment many dogs do recover.
The sugar substitute also crops up in sugar-free candy, breath mints, cough syrup, chewable vitamins, mouthwash and toothpaste. Xylitol also lurks in some brands of peanut butter, which many dog owners use as treats or to hide pills.
Xylitol is increasing in popularity and use because it is about as sweet as sucrose but contains only about two-thirds of the calories. As a sugar substitute, it is lower on the glycemic index which makes it useful for diabetics or people on low carbohydrate diets. With respect to oral health, research has shown that xylitol helps reduce the formation of plaque, inhibits dental cavities, and stimulates the production of saliva.
Due to this increasing popularity, the number of calls received by the Pet Poison Helpline about xylitol poisoning is on the rise. They reported 2,900 calls in 2015, compared to 300 reported in 2009. Peanut butter might seem like the most obvious culprit but sugar-free gum is the most common cause of xylitol poisoning according to the Pet Poison Helpline. Xylitol poisoning can cause vomiting, weakness, staggering or collapse and seizures.
Play it safe with your dog. Keep sugarless candies and gums out of reach. An open purse or a nightstand are areas easy to reach for any inquisitive dog. Store candy and gum safely away, as you would for toddlers. Better be safe than sorry.
If you suspect that your pet has eaten a xylitol-containing product, please contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) immediately.