“Blowing Bubbles Can Cause Troubles”
Xylitol Ingestion
Written by Dr. Marni Cohen, DVM

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Coal is an 8 year old male Greyhound owned by Dr. Flanagan. Recently he ate a pack of her Orbit chewing gum. Coal decided that the Orbit bubble gum smelled yummy and he ate the whole pack. In the past, when an animal ate chewing gum, it was nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, manufacturers have started adding a sugar substitute called Xylitol to a lot of the gum.

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Xylitol is a white powder that looks and tastes like sugar. It is now being used as a sugar substitute. Due to the high demand for sugar free products, Xylitol is used in many more products; like candy, gums, puddings and baked goods. Xylitol has little or no effect in humans and is safe for us to ingest. However, in dogs it can have very serious side effects. Xylitol strongly promotes the release of insulin in dogs and can cause severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), liver damage, bleeding disorders, and possible death. These clinical signs can take up to 48 hours to develop. If ingestion is not caught early, the damage is often irreversible.

Chewing gums that are sweetened with xylitol contain about 1-2 grams per piece. This means that a small amount of gum (1 to 2 pieces) can cause hypoglycemia in an average sized dog. If the gum has already been chewed before the dog eats it, chances are that it has significantly less xylitol then a fresh piece. However, it is best to be extra cautious and call or take your pet to a veterinarian so that they initiate treatment. A full recovery is possible with early medical attention.

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Dr. Flanagan rushed Coal into the animal hospital. We induced vomiting right away. This can be done with hydrogen peroxide, apomorphine, or ipecac syrup. We also checked his blood glucose, did a blood chemistry panel, started an IV fluid drip (to restore and maintain hydration) and put him on supportive liver medications. Once he was stable, Dr. Flanagan took him to a 24 hour hospital where he was monitored throughout the night to make sure his blood glucose did not drop to low and she would not have to worry. Coal did great, had no complications and wondered what all the fuss was about!!
Remember that products safe for humans are not always safe for our pets. Make sure you keep such products in a safe place where your pets cannot get them. It can happen to any one of us