Danger of Dog Eating Gum
by Ron Kurtus (revised 18 January 2022)
It is amazing how many people spit their chewing gum on the ground or in the grass. Not only is this gross, but it is potentially dangerous to dogs that eat the gum. The reason is that most chewing gum these days are sweetened with xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs.
Sugar-free gums are almost 70% xylitol, because it is an artificial sweetener. When xylitol is ingested by dogs, it causes a surge of insulin that drops a dog's blood sugar to dangerous levels. This can damage your dog's liver.
The best thing to do is to keep your dog away from new or used chewing gum.
Questions you may have include:
- How much gum is lethal?
- What are symptoms of Xylitol poisoning?
- What should you do is your dog eats gum?
This lesson will answer those questions. Animal Health Disclaimer
How much xylitol is lethal?
About 3 grams of xylitol—or around ten pieces of sugarless gum—can kill a dog as big as 65 pounds. Seven pieces can be harmful to a 45 pound dog, while smaller dogs only need to consume as little as two pieces of gum before the dosage starts doing some serious damage, such as liver failure.
Less than 0.1 gram of the chemical is enough to give dogs a dramatic surge of insulin when they consume it. Trident contains 0.17g per stick, though others can be up to 1g. Once ingested, it causes the dog's blood sugar levels to drop to such depths that they risk brain damage, a coma, liver failure, and death.
However, gum that a person has chewed and spit out will have less of the toxin in it—perhaps only 10%. There have been no studies on the amount of xylitol that is left in the chewed gum, but it still can be dangerous.
Intake of very high doses of xylitol (225 mg/lb or 500 mg/kg body weight) has been implicated in liver failure in dogs.
Symptoms of xylitol poisoning
Symptoms of xylitol toxicity develop rapidly, usually within 15-30 minutes of consumption. Signs of hypoglycemia may include any or all of the following:
- Difficulty walking or standing (walking like drunk)
- Depression or lethargy
In severe cases, the dog may develop seizures or liver failure. Dogs that develop liver failure from xylitol poisoning often show signs of hypoglycemia.
Prevention and treatment
It is important not to leave chewing gum packages in the house where you dog can get the gum and eat it. This includes candy that contain artificial sweeteners.
When you are walking your dog outside, do not let your pet eat gum that has been spit out on the ground, grass, or in the bushes.
I've stopped walking my dog near a local church, because so many people spit their gum out on the ground before going in for the service.
Treatment for xylitol poisoning
If your dog has eaten a quantity of gum and is showing symptoms of xylitol poisoning, call your vet or bring your dog to the vet immediately. They may tell you over the phone to start inducing vomiting at home to help remove any excess gum in your dog's stomach.
Eating several pieces of sugarless chewing gum can be toxic and even lethal to a dog, depending on the number of pieces and size of the dog. Used gum has less xylitol but still can be harmful.
Signs that the dog has problems include weakness and seizures. It is important to prevent your dog from eating gum. If it has eaten a quantity of gum and is showing symptoms, bring the animal to the vet immediately.
Take care of your pet
Resources and references
Dog Chewing Gum Toxicity - VetInfo.com
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