Can something as common as chewing gum be toxic? The answer is yes. According to the Animal Poison Control Center, last year they managed over 170 sick pets after they had eaten products containing Xylitol … a sugar-alcohol sweetener found in sugar-free human food products such as chewing gum, candy, baked goods and other products.
Dogs that eat significant amounts of this substance can develop a sudden drop in blood sugar which can cause weakness, lethargy, loss of coordination, collapse and seizures.
Symptoms can begin in as little as 30 minutes after a product is ingested and can last for hours. It is recommended that pets that experience symptoms be taken to a veterinarian or local emergency clinic for evaluation. Treatment may include hospitalization and intravenous fluids with dextrose supplementation.
Some studies also suggest that there is a strong link between xylitol ingestion and the development of liver failure in dogs. While in humans this substance has little to no effect on plasma insulin or glucose levels, in dogs it is a strong promoter of insulin release and is thus more likely to cause symptoms (Ref: “Hypoglycemia following canine ingestion of xylitol-containing gum.” Vet Hum Toxicol 46 :87-8 2004 Apr Dunayer EK).
To prevent toxicity, do not feed pets human products sweetened with Xylitol. Minimize pet exposure to any area where candy or gum may be stored. Many dogs have been exposed by getting into purses and handbags where gum is often kept.
So, let this be a warning, and keep all food that could conceivably contain this sweetener well out of reach.
ANTIC, June, 2009
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