SUGAR FREE CAN BE TOXIC!
This is Ripley, an 8yo German Shepherd that came to us after sneaking into his owners luggage and eating ~24 pieces of Pur gum. Thankfully she realized quickly what had happened and brought him in for immediate treatment.
Xylitol is a sugar substitute used in gum, toothpaste and even peanut butter. In dogs it causes a large release of insulin, which causes severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). In higher doses it can cause acute liver failure. Many products do not list the actual xylitol amounts. In Ripley’s case, only 4 pieces of the gum he ate would have caused symptoms of hypoglycemia including weakness, tremors and/or seizures. Fortunately we induced vomiting and retrieved 21 pieces of gum! After having his blood sugar monitored for several hours, he was cleared to go home. For many toxins, we can use activated charcoal to bind anything that is not vomited before it gets absorbed. Unfortunately this does not work for xylitol. If absorption did happen in Ripley’s case, we would have started intravenous fluids with added dextrose to keep his blood sugar in the normal range. We are all so thankful that he is doing very well!
It does not take very much xylitol to make a dog seriously ill. It can be life threatening. Read labels, avoid keeping these products in your home and if inadvertent ingestion occurs, seek veterinary care immediately.
If you have any questions, call us at Truro Vet (902) 893-2341