Sunday, January 25, 2009

Beware Toxic Gum

"I have a client on the phone whose dogs just ate some gum with Xylitol," my tech told me at 5 p.m. "Is that a problem?"

Boy howdy, yes. "Tell them to come in immediately," I told him.

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener often found in gums like Trident and Extra. Perfectly safe for humans, the dog's pancreas thinks it is glucose and starts pumping out tons of insulin. Dogs can die of hypoglycemia; the worst period is the first 24 hours. Later it can also cause liver damage.

Two sticks of gum is toxic for a 20 lb dog. These two chihuahuas ate a pack between the two of them -- not good. Once they arrived, we placed an IV catheter and started a dextrose drip. Baseline glucose and liver values were fine. I gave them a drug to induce vomiting.

Both of them brought up large amounts of green gum. I had been thinking only one of them would be the culprit and we'd be treating them both just to be on the safe side. Clearly they had each ingested enough to be lethal. I have to say, it was some of the nicest, minty-fresh vomit I'd ever smelled.

Soon we were closing, so they were off to the emergency clinic for overnight monitoring of their blood sugar and to continue their dextrose drip. Fortunately the vomiting seemed to have preempted anything worse - they were discharged to their happy, exhausted owners 24 hours later.

Unfortunately, this experience will not put them off the gum - I'm sure given the chance they would gladly eat it again. The owner said he's never bringing the gum in the house again. A few months ago, though, we had a client bring in her dog for a repeat Xylitol toxicosis - her visiting friend left a pack of gum on the sofa, and the dog took care of it.

Dog owners: read your packages of gum and sugar-free candy carefully! If it has Xylitol, don't bring it in the house. Or better yet, don't buy it!


peevish said...

Wow, that is really frightening. I had no idea! Thanx for the info

Btw, my word verif. is Bushola.

get2eric said...

I like Bushola better than mine. Touche

Krispy said...

I forwarded to my mom whose dog has ingested and somehow survived numerous ingestions of toxic items (2 lbs of grapes, a dark chocolate cake and slug poison, just to name a few.)

my word is WINKER! how awesome is that?

Emily said...

Wow, never knew that! Glad you were able to catch them in time and fix them up.

My word verif. is POOPHOAC!

Anonymous said...

..What a story,Jennifer! and MY word verification is something that I always am..'Reade' hahahaha


Laura said...

One more thing to worry about! Let's see: raisins, grapes, chocolate, certain kinds of nuts (but I have no idea what kind), onions, large quantities of potatoes, and now xylitol. Oh, plus DOG BEDS.
Maybe instead of medicating the dog, it's ME who needs the meds!

premenopaws said...

Wow, I had no clue -- thanks for posting this.

But I'm still chuckling over the minty fresh vomit! How refreshing!

mainlyclearskies said...

I had never heard that about the sugar-free gums. Perhaps it's a good reason I am not a dog-owner. Though I will be dog-sitting for a couple weeks in February.

Laura said...

One more thing: I just remembered that xylitol is also used as a sweetener in some toothpastes.

i never get any cool verif words.