In April 2015 news reports carried an account of a Wisconsin family whose 2-year-old golden retriever had died of severe liver damage after consuming gum containing the sweetener Xylitol:
Luna, a 2-year-old golden retriever, was put down by her owners after she ingesting Xylitol-laden gum. Luna had suffered severe liver damage.
“Luna had gotten into a container of gum, actually chewed it open herself,” said Samantha Caress, 22. She, boyfriend Jordan Pellett ,22, and their son, Grady, 7 months, are devastated.
“She was like our first child. She was like our family before we even had Grady,” said Caress.
Caress and Pellett said the dog ingested the “Ice Breaker” Lemon-flavor gum while the couple was out of the home.
That tragedy echoed an example which first reached us in
Today we almost lost our puppy Zelda. This is the puppy that we got this same week last year after one of our dogs, Zeus, was hit and killed in our driveway. Great time of year in this household.
Anyway, Zelda got into a half pack (thank God only half) of Orbit sugar free gum. Big deal right? Well, apparently the sweetener Xylitol that seems to be in every pack of sugar free gum around is VERY toxic to dogs. Troy was so upset and insistent that I take her to the vet that I did. By the time we got to the vet’s office, about
15 minutesafter Zelda had eaten the gum, her blood sugar was already 50 pointsbelow normal and she was basically falling asleep or so it appeared. Had they not had her vomit it she most likely would have died of insulin shock/hypoglycemia pretty quickly. If that had not killed her though, the liver damage that this toxin does to dogs would have by the next day or shortly thereafter.
Even the vet didn’t realize how toxic the stuff is to dogs until she called the vet poison control center. They told her that
2 piecesof gum or candy (gum sized) with Xylitol would throw a 13 pounddog into severe hypoglycemia, 10 pieceswould throw it into liver failure on top of that. We figure she ate somewhere between 5 and 10 piecesof Orbit gum.
Anyway, Zelda is now on IV dextrose and fluids all night, with glucose checks at a minimum of every
6 hoursonce they stabilize her blood sugar and they also have to now run the liver tox screens for the next 72 hoursas well.
Please pass this on to anyone you know who has dogs. If they’re like me they will have little to no clue that this stuff is a problem. Interestingly, poison control told the vet that some makers of sugar free gum with Xylitol reimburse pet owners whose pets ingest Xylitol for their vet bills — which can be VERY steep I can tell you. Unfortunately, the makers of Orbit wasn’t one of them. But at least I didn’t lose another dog this year!! They’re hoping that she will make a full recovery.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol commonly used in candy and chewing gum (and some other products, such as peanut butter). It is also found in some pharmaceuticals and oral health products such as chewable vitamins and throat lozenges. It can also be used in home baking.
While Xylitol is safe for humans, it can be harmful to dogs. The compound doesn’t affect glucose levels in people, but when ingested by dogs it can cause a dangerous surge of insulin. (In as little as
Just three grams of Xylitol can kill a
“Certain types of sugar-free gum have huge amounts of Xylitol,” said Dr. Justine Lee, Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Minnesota. “A lot of people do not think about it, but Xylitol’s a product in sugar-free vitamins. They are in toothpaste. They are in dental floss. They are in nasal sprays or in gums or in baked goods and as little as a couple of pieces of gum can result in severe hypoglycemia, so a life threatening drop in blood sugar and actually liver failure.”
A dog that has eaten an item containing Xylitol can be rapidly hit by a dangerous drop in blood sugar that causes weakness, lethargy, loss of coordination, collapse, and seizures. Those symptoms can develop within
Xylitol also appears to cause severe liver damage in dogs within
If you think your dog has consumed sugarless gum or any other product containing Xylitol, call your veterinarian immediately. Most likely you will be instructed to bring your pet in to have vomiting induced and
Veterinary treatment generally involves 24-hour hospitalization and infusion with intravenous fluids containing glucose. Your dog’s blood sugar will be monitored every few hours and the dose of glucose being fed to him
As to how to prevent such poisonings, recognize that dogs are long on sweet tooth and short on judgment and act accordingly. Do not leave tasty items lying around. Put sugar-free gums and candies where dogs can’t get at them. Keep chewable vitamins out of the way too. If you bake with Xylitol, store the resultant goodies well out of your pets’ reach and do not hand-feed them bits of Xylitol-laced muffin as a treat no matter how much they beg.
Never rely on the presumption that what is safe for a human to ingest is equally safe for your pets.
- Dietrick, Tim. "Sugarless Gums Can Be Dangerous for Dogs." Richmond Times Dispatch. 4 November 2006 (p. E3).
- Hively, Suzanne. "Sugar-Free Treats Could Be Harmful to Dogs." [Cleveland] Plain Dealer. 30 December 2004 (p. E13).
- Scott, Linda. "Veterinarian: Keep Dogs Clear of Sugar Substitute, Xylitol." Dayton [Ohio] Daily News. 22 February 2007 (p. Z3-1).
- Wood, Deborah. "Sweetener Suspected in Dogs' Liver Damage." The Oregonian. 10 October 2006 (p. E3).
- Richmond Times Dispatch. "Common Sweetener Xylitol Kills Dogs." 2 October 2006 (p. A4).