Our dogs would eat just about anything. Spilled a jar of tomato sauce or dropped a tub of ice cream? You can bet Fido to lick it much faster than you can say “shoo.” This is no different than when a piece of chewing gum happens to be lying around within its reach. It would grab it and probably swallow it whole with no care in the world.
Chewing gums are a big no-no for our dogs. It is a rubbery, non-digestible substance that is meant to be chewed rather than swallowed. This risk of a choking hazard is the main reason why dogs cannot have chewing gums. Our dogs would swallow anything they get their mouths on, and the results can be fatal.
In this article, we will discuss what happens when our dogs accidentally eat chewing gum and what we can do when it happens. We will also tackle what makes most gums toxic to our dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Gum?
No, dogs cannot eat gum. Chewing gums are made from a non-digestible gum base that is flavored with sugars or artificial sweeteners like xylitol. Additionally, chewing gums may also cause a choking hazard and intestinal blockage to our fur babies.
Many gums also contain isomalt, maltitol, aspartame, BHA (beta-hydroxy acid), and color additives. Despite being considered safe for dogs, most of these ingredients, when ingested in large amounts, may likely cause vomiting or diarrhea.
Although most of the ingredients of chewing gums are safe for dogs to consume, it is xylitol that should be of utmost concern. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is present in many food items, especially in a lot of gum products.
Xylitol gets absorbed quickly inside a canine’s body and can trigger the rapid release of insulin in the pancreas. This could lead to hypoglycemia, or the sudden decrease of blood sugar levels, which can be fatal to our dogs.
Chewing gums can also be a choking hazard. Dogs don’t usually chew their food, especially if it is soft. And, because gums cannot be broken down into pieces, it tends to be swallowed whole.
Larger pieces are especially hazardous and have the potential to stick in their throat.
Another reason why dogs can’t eat gums is that gum is non-digestible. Gums cannot be broken down by stomach acids and can remain intact, passing through the digestive system.
Gum has the potential of getting blocked in the intestines and may cause constipation. It can also remain inside the system for days before it can be passed through their stools.
Signs that there may be blockage include abdominal tenderness, vomiting, constipation, lack of appetite, and strange behaviors. An x-ray may be required to find out the extent of the problem, and, in some cases, surgery may be performed if the blockage is severe.
If, for instance, a gum suddenly protrudes from your dog’s rectum, it is advisable to bring it to your veterinarian so they can safely remove the gum. Attempting to pull it out yourself could lead to some injury inside its anal area.
What Happens If Your Dog Eats Gum?
Consumption of gum products with xylitol can take effect within 10 to 60 minutes of ingestion.
It is important to look out for the following signs of xylitol poisoning, and immediate care from the veterinarian is paramount.
In serious cases, the liver may be affected, and coma is possible.
Can A Dog Survive After Eating Gum With Xylitol?
If given immediate care by the veterinarian, your dog may survive. No antidote or drug that can counteract xylitol, but there are supportive procedures that can minimize its effect.
The first thing that can be done is to induce vomiting to prevent further absorption of the compound. Blood work may also be performed to know the glucose and potassium levels in the blood. This is important because a sudden drop in glucose level can lead to comatose.
Further hospitalization may be necessary to monitor their vital signs and intravenous fluids administered. Drugs to prevent liver failure are also given since xylitol is metabolized in the liver.
How Much Gum Can A Dog Eat?
The amount of xylitol that is considered toxic to a dog is about 0.5 gram per pound of body weight. To put that into perspective, a piece or one stick of sugar-free gum may contain as much as 1 gram of xylitol.
So, that quantity is enough to cause some problems for a medium-sized dog.
How Do I Prevent My Dog From Eating Gum?
Keeping gums, or any other products with xylitol, out of your dog’s reach is the best way to prevent any accidental gum ingestion. Avoid placing one in your pocket or an open bag your dog can easily access. Our dogs can be a little sneaky sometimes when they smell something sweet.
When buying food products, it is also helpful to check the labels if they contain xylitol or other ingredients that may be harmful to your dog.