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Chewing gum can be toxic!

December 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Cats, Dogs

Many types of sugar free products contain a product called xylitol.  These products may be chewing gums, candies, or even some medications.  Although xylitol is safe for people, it is toxic to dogs.

How does xylitol cause toxicity?

Xylitol causes the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin, which then cause blood sugar to drop to unsafe levels.  This can lead to weakness, tremors, collapse, and even seizures.  If that’s not enough, in some cases xylitol can cause liver failure.

Can my pet be treated?

Although there is no specific antidote for xylitol toxicity, treatment is aimed at supportive care.  If your pet just ate the xylitol containing product, vomiting may be induced as with many other toxins.  However, if the xylitol was eaten much earlier, then supportive care is initiated.  One toxic dose of xylitol can last for several days, so supportive care may be needed for several days.  This consists of IV fluids with dextrose in them to keep the blood glucose at normal levels, medications to help protect the liver, medications to prevent vomiting, antibiotics in some cases, and antacids in some cases.  Monitoring of blood values is important to track progress and make sure no further damage is occurring to the liver.

What can I do to prevent toxicity?

The main thing to keep in mind is not all products safe for humans are safe for our pets.  Avoid feeding your pet anything that contains xylitol.  If your pet does eat a product that has this listed as an ingredient, then call your veterinarian right away.  Hopefully with rapid treatment, toxicity may be prevented.

 

What is xylitol?

Xylitol is a substance that looks and tastes like sugar. It is found as an artificial sweetener in many products, such as sugar free chewing gum and candy. Although it is safe for humans, it is toxic to pets.

 

How does xylitol cause toxicity?

Xylitol causes the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin, which then cause blood sugar to drop to unsafe levels. This can lead to weakness, tremors, collapse, and even seizures. If that’s not enough, in some cases xylitol can cause liver failure.

 

Can my pet be treated?

Unfortunately there is no specific antidote for xylitol toxicity; treatment is aimed at supportive care. If your pet just ate the xylitol containing product, vomiting will be induced and decontamination will occur as with many other toxins. However, if the xylitol was eaten much earlier, then supportive care is initiated. One toxic dose of xylitol can last for several days, so supportive care may be needed for several days. This consists of IV fluids with dextrose in them to keep the blood glucose at normal levels, medications to help protect the liver, medications to prevent vomiting, antibiotics in some cases, and antacids in some cases.

 

What can I do to prevent toxicity?

The main thing to keep in mind is not all products safe for humans are safe for our pets. Avoid feeding your pet anything that contains xylitol. If your pet does eat a product that has this listed as an ingredient, then call your veterinarian right away. Hopefully with rapid treatment, toxicity may be prevented.

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One Response to “Chewing gum can be toxic!”
  1. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

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