Thursday, June 16, 2011

Keep Chewing Gum Away From Your Dog!

by Dr. Patrick Mahaney, VMD

As an avid gum chewer (it keeps me from biting my nails), dog owner, and veterinarian, I am alarmed to see the increasing trend of toxicity secondary to dogs inappropriately consuming sugarless gum containing Xylitol.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Poison Control Center (APCC) database indicates 150 cases in 2007, all related to the consumption of Xylitol based sugar-free gum.

Xylitol is a crystalline sugar alcohol used to replace sugar as a sweetener in various food products, including chewing gum and candy.

Xylitol mimics sugar’s effect on the body, causing release of insulin from the pancreas and reduction in blood sugar (hypoglycemia). 

Dogs quickly absorb Xylitol from the digestive tract, causing a sudden and strong release of insulin with secondary hypoglycemia.

A very small amount of Xylitol can potentially cause significant toxicity in dogs. 

A mere 1 to 2 pieces of chewing gum containing Xylitol can be potentially toxic to a dog weighing 20 pounds or less!

Symptoms of Xylitol toxicity include (but are not limited to):
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting (Emesis)
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of coordination (Ataxia)
  • Seizures
If untreated, Xylitol toxicity can also lead to liver failure, blood clotting abnormalities, and death.

As this toxicity is completely preventable, please keep all Xylitol containing products out of your home if you have pets. In my clinical practice, I have seen cases of Xylitol toxicity after a dog consumed sugar-free gum from a purse belonging to his owner’s friend, so be aware that this toxicity can occur even if you keep a Xylitol-free household.

Should you suspect or are aware of your pet having consumed a product with Xylitol, contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (AAPCC) at 888-426-4435. 

It is worth the $65 consultation fee to start a case file with a board certified veterinary toxicologist to determine the best treatment.

For the record, Cardiff consumed no chewing gum during the photo shoot for this article.

Please feel free to leave your comments or communicate with me through email or Twitter.

Thank you for reading my article. Make sure to follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by friending Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.

Copyright of this article (2011) is owned by Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr. Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr. Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.

***

Dr. Patrick uses acupuncture on his own pet. He completed the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) basic course (2006) and he is now a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (CVA).

He earned this certification after he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (1999) and completed an internship at Friendship Hospital for Animals in Washington, D.C (2000).

Why does he believe so strongly in acupuncture for your pets, especially as a pain management tool? Because combining both Western and Eastern treatments can produce a better outcome for your pets.

Dr. Patrick also works with local Los Angeles rescue organizations to help those pets that have been given a second chance to live healthier lives, and he is currently sharing his pet care knowledge at his Los Angeles Pet Care Examiner column.


Articles by Dr. Patrick
Why Integrative Veterinary Medicine?
Battling IMHA With Integrative Veterinary Medicine (part 1)
Battling IMHA With Integrative Veterinary Medicine (part 2)
Buddha Recovers From Third Degree Burns

Further reading:
Learn From Kelly Osbourne — Keep Your Dog Away From Chewing Gum!
Safe and healthy sweetener for people - but means more pets will die!
Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs
Veterinary Q&A: Why is xylitol so dangerous for dogs and cats? 

8 comments

  1. Hi Y'all,

    Oh my, kids love to share EVERYTHING with their dog! I know when I was a kid I always shared my gum with mine.

    Noticed the accupuncture certification. We had a vet back in the early 80's who studied accupuncture in China. He specialized in performance horses and he was our vet. He had miraculous results on our performance horses.

    We get accupuncture treatment from a Chinese medical doctor for our own problems . We use accupressure on our dog because we have no vet nearby who uses accupuncture.

    Hawk aka BrownDog's Human

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Hawk. Some things are just not good to share. Back in your days the gum might have had regular sugar but modern gum uses mostly (if not all) xylitol. So please be careful about what gets shared and what does not. As some of the things, such as anything containing xylitol are not only bad, they can be deadly.

    We are using TCVM and used acupuncture for Jasmine as well. Yes, these things can work wonders!

    If you want to try finding a vet who could do acupuncture for animals, you can try Chi Institute Veterinary http://www.tcvm.com/ it has a vet finder.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Two weeks ago on a Friday night, my 65lbs Golden Retriever "Daisy" found a bag of sweetener xylitol that I used for baking cookies. Thirty minutes after Daisy consumed xylitol, her blood glucose dropped rapidly causing her to have: vomit, excessive thirst, and muscle tremors. I rushed her to the Animal Emergency Service. She was immediately put on the IV dextrose and fluids. She remained at the clinic for five days. They did glucose checks every couple of hours and ran the liver tox screen. The first 72 hours were critical. According to the vet, the mechanism of this toxicity, in dogs at least, creates a sudden crash of blood glucose and life-threatening changes (liver failure). When Daisy was brought in, her blood work showed her glucose was extremely low and her liver enzymes was at 385 (normal range for dogs is 20 to 60). The next day on Saturday, they did another blood work and her results showed her glucose returned to normal but the liver enzymes elevated to 515. Daisy ate approximately 1 cup of xylitol which was deadly amount for her. Since she was treated immediately within an hour after consumption which may have helped but she was not out of the woods for five days. In three days, her liver enzymes dropped to 365 which was a miracle. At the fifth day, her liver enzymes was at 224 and the vet felt Daisy was on the road to full recovery. Since that time, I followed up twice with Daisy's regular vet for her repeat blood work. Her results have stabilized. In addition,I had to feed her multiple small bland meals (white rice, boiled chicken) thourghout the day to help maintain her blood sugar level and to gradual transition back to her regular diet. The clinic vet put her on denamarin (425mg)which she must take for one month to help protect her liver. It took Daisy about two weeks to gain her strength. The sweetner xylitol that I had on my kitchen counter didn't have a bold warning label that it is highly toxic to dogs. It just says "Not recommended for pets"....of course we know that anything from the kitchen is not recommended for dogs. My point is the label should explicitly spell out the the danger to dogs!!!!!!!!! Who knew what xylitol does

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi, so sorry about Daisy, glad she recovered though! Fortunately liver can come back from quite far gone and heal. Jasmine's liver was trashed after her drug-induced hyperthermia as well. It also took quite a while, but it healed as well.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

    Yes, the labels don't say much, don't they? Would you like to have this as a feature story?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Jana, Yes, I think it would be a good idea to feature my story. It is important to spread the words how deadly xylitol can be for dogs. It was a learning experience for me what it could do to a dog or I would never have had any product containing xylitol in my house. I hope featuring my story to dog owners will help to prevent them from heart breaking ordeal.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes, that's the whole idea behind my blog - to save others from having to learn things the hard way on their own.

    Thank you for being willing to share your story. My email is in the profile. What you wrote here is quite good, please tell readers more about Daisy and your relationship, more details about the event if you remember and anything else you want to include.

    You can have your bio and back links with the article. Or links to your favorite shelter etc.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you so much for this article. I had no idea sugarless gum was toxic. I'm sure many others do not know either. You have probibly help save many pets with this article.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am glad you found the article useful. Some real dangers are hiding in plain sight, aren't they? This one surely doesn't sound dangerous, but indeed it is very dangerous.

    A word of caution, chewing gum isn't the only product containing xylitol. Other sugarless products contain it too, including some common medications!

    ReplyDelete

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