We had a scare with our dog tonight. I walked into the kitchen and saw shreds of pink and white paper and foil lying on the floor. I could tell that it was the remnants of a pack of chewing gum and the only reason it could be in its present state would be because our dog Trinity had gotten into it. In the back of my mind, I seemed to recall having read a warning about sugar free gum and dogs so my daughter and I immediately jumped on the internet while I tried to call our vet. A few phone calls later and I was on the line with the Pet Poison Helpline seeking their assistance in how to handle this. We learned a few very important lessons – beyond the obvious of keeping the gum out of the dog’s reach.
- Keep a bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide on hand as part of our “pet medicine cabinet”. This is what they had us use to induce vomiting in the dog. They also had us follow up with some table syrup to make sure she didn’t suffer a drop in blood sugar (as could have been the case with the Xylitol). For a complete list of items you should keep in your pet poison control kit, click here.
- It was unbelievably difficult to find a complete ingredient list online and even the poison control center had trouble locating the information. I ultimately had to go to three different stores to find the product and read the ingredient list right on the package. It turns out that this particular sugar-free gum doesn’t have Xylitol in it (the particularly toxic ingredient of concern) but we wasted precious time trying to find that out. It’s a good idea to read up on potential poisons and pet safety ahead of time. Click here to check out the list of the top ten most frequent dog and cat toxins of 2013 and other helpful information as listed on the Pet Poison Helpline.
- Be prepared to act quickly. If there had been Xylitol in that gum, by the time we found it out, our dog could have been in serious condition. We’re posting the poison control number on the side of the fridge for easy reference from now on. And I’m making sure our emergency pet care kit is complete. I had to run to the store to get the Hydrogen Peroxide and again, that used up time that could have been vital in saving our dog’s life. The number to call Pet Poison Helpline is 1-800-213-6680. This helpline is available throughout the US, Canada, and the Caribbean for vets and pet owners. You have to have a credit card available and pay a $39 per case fee as they receive no funding. This fee includes their consultation with you as well as with your vet as needed. It also includes all followup so you can call back as many times as needed regarding that one particular incident for that one fee.
Xylitol is sugar-free sweetener found in many different products including chewing gum, mints, foods such as pudding and gelatin cups, toothpastes, oral rinses, and certain over the counter supplements. Signs of Xylitol poisoning in your dog can include: weakness, lethargy, vomiting, tremors, seizures, jaundice, black tarry stools, and can lead to coma or death. It can cause a drop in the dog’s blood sugar and liver damage. For more information on Xylitol, click here.