Many pet owners are unsure of what to do if their dog eats gum. Today, our South Salem vets discuss what you should do and what happens when a dog eats gum.
When a Dog Eats Gum
If your dog has curiously eaten some chewing gum, you are probably wondering what to do next, what to watch for, and if this constitutes an emergency or not.
These are normal things to wonder about because your dog's digestive system is different from humans and gum is not something they should be ingesting. In a lot of cases, your dog will be perfectly fine after a piece of gum and will show no signs at all but there are cases where your dog can become very sick and need to see your South Salem vet.
According to the Pet Poison Hotline, xylitol pet poisonings have more than doubled in the last 5 years as we’re seeing a substantial increase in the number of products that use xylitol. In 2020, the number of calls to the helpline concerning xylitol poisoning was second only to chocolate poisoning calls.
What is Xylitol?
- Xylitol is a sugar alcohol (a carbohydrate that does not contain alcohol).
- Xylitol is a low-calorie sugar substitute. Research suggests that Xylitol may also improve dental health, prevent ear infections, and possess antioxidant properties.
- Xylitol occurs naturally in small amounts in fruits and vegetables, trees, corncobs, and even the human body.
- Xylitol is a common ingredient in many products, including chewing gum and toothpaste. People also use xylitol as a tabletop sweetener or in baking.
- Manufacturers use xylitol as a sugar substitute because its sweetness is similar to table sugar but with fewer calories.
Signs of Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs
The most common symptoms to watch out for after your dog has eaten some gum are:
What Constitutes an Emergency
If your dog eats gum, they may suffer from toxicity. Toxicity is a medical emergency and you should take your pup to the vet if they show any of the following symptoms:
- Trouble Breathing
- Pale Gums
Even if your dog is not exhibiting these symptoms, it is a good idea to contact your vet to determine the next steps. They may want to monitor your dog as a precaution.
Sugar-Free Gum Without Xylitol
If your dog eats gum without xylitol, your dog may end up with an upset stomach, especially if they ate a lot of it. You should keep a close eye on your dog because this gum may not be toxic but it does have other potential side effects if eaten including an intestinal blockage. Symptoms of intestinal blockage in your dog include drooling, vomiting, lack of appetite, and abdominal pain.
Since dogs are so curious, you may want to switch to gum without Xylitol in the future to avoid any serious issues.
What to Look Out for in the First 30 to 60 Minutes
You will need to watch your dog for about 24 hours after you discover that they have eaten your gum. The first 30 minutes to an hour is when the most serious symptoms will start to happen. The earlier you get your dog checked out by the vet the better chance your dog will not have any serious complications.
It usually takes anywhere from 10-24 hours for something to pass through your dog's digestive system. Gum is almost impossible for the body to break down, so it must pass through your dog's system if swallowed.
If your dog has eaten a lot of gum, it can cause a blockage in your dog's intestines, keeping other food from passing. This happens if your dog also consumes the gum's wrapper or packaging. It could take a few days for the signs of a blockage to become clear to you.
Symptoms of a blockage can include vomiting, abdominal tenderness, constipation, lack of appetite, or unusual behavior, so it can be hard to tell if your dog is sick or has a blockage. If your vet suspects a blockage, X-rays will be needed to determine the extent of the issue. The gum can become stuck and if that happens surgery will probably be required.
If you notice the gum coming out of your dog's bum, do not attempt to pull it out. This could cause serious damage to your dog's intestinal tract. Take your dog to a vet where the gum can be removed safely.