It can be concerning for dog owners when their pet has eaten gum. Today, our vets discuss what to do when your dog eats gum, and when it warrants an emergency.
What Happens if a Dog Eats Gum?
If your dog has accidentally gotten into some gum, you are probably wondering what to do next, what to look out for, and if this constitutes a veterinary emergency.
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 Franklin vets.
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 substance that is poisonous to dogs and:
- is a sugar alcohol, it is a kind of carbohydrate and does not contain alcohol.
- is a low-calorie sugar substitute. Research suggests that Xylitol may also improve dental health, prevent ear infections, and possess antioxidant properties.
- occurs naturally in small amounts in fruits and vegetables, trees, corncobs, and even the human body.
- is a common ingredient in many products, including sugar-free chewing gum and toothpaste. People also use xylitol as a table-top sweetener or in baking.
- is used 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:
Determining an Emergency
If after eating gum, your dog starts to become lethargic or weak, collapse or have trouble breathing, pale gums and vomiting or tremors or seizures, it is time to see the vet right away.
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 examine and 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.
Monitoring Your Dog for the First 30 - 60 Minutes
You will need to watch your dog for about 24 hours after you discover that they have eaten 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 object can be removed safely.