Tuesday, April 23, 2013

FYI: Sugar-Free Gum with Xylitol is Poisonous for Dogs

Sourabh and I spent the hours from 10:45 PM to 1:00 AM at the emergency 24-hour pet hospital last night. Mason ate almost an entire pack of Orbit sugar-free gum, so we first called up our vet then took him to the hospital to be checked out after we couldn't get him to throw up. Thankfully he's fine now and sleeping like a baby in bed.

Classic Mason - cause trouble then curl up and be cute.
I wanted to write about the incident, though, because the only reason I knew xylitol -- an ingredient in most sugar-free gums -- was poisonous to dogs was because of a post Ashley wrote a few months ago.

Why is xylitol poisonous?
Ingestion of xylitol primarily affects insulin release throughout the body. Insulin causes an increase of glucose (blood sugar) uptake into the liver, muscle, and fat cells resulting in decreasing blood glucose levels.
Xylitol strongly promotes the release of insulin from the pancreas into circulation leading to a rapid decrease of blood glucose levels. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can occur within 30 to 60 minutes of xylitol ingestion with levels as low as 0.1g xylitol /kg body weight. (source)
"But it tastes good and makes my mouth smell minty fresh!"

I'm also posting because I want to catalogue this potential cat assassination attempt. Knowing that my cats get into my gum and that it was hazardous to Mason, who will eat anything that falls on the floor, I put the gum in a small basket on a side table.

Clearly responsible for the assassination attempt.
This did not stop the cats from scooping it out, dropping it on the floor, and apparently attempting to assassinate Mason. Yes, we're going to have to watch this brewing Cold War more closely.

Anyway, we realized Mason had gotten into the container and talked to our vet. He recommended we try to make Mason throw up with 1-2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide, which we had a hard time getting into him even when we mixed it with his favorite food, peanut butter (for future reference, a friend recommended melted ice cream).

"But I'm so cute? Why would you want to do that, kitties?"
Since we couldn't get him to throw up, we decided to take him to a 24/7 emergency hospital (Blue Pearl in Midtown, which was great). They had us call Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435. If the owner calls, it's a $65 consultation fee for the entire process, including all follow-up calls, but if the vet calls them it's $150, which is why they had us initiate the call.

The hotline took down the details, talked to their onsite vet, then told us that Orbit was the least poisonous for dogs of the sugar-free gums and that Mason should be ok if he threw up, but gave us a case number so the vet could call them and get more details.

After another hour or so, during which Mason finally threw up and his blood glucose and sugar levels looked ok, he was given some fluids and released to come home.

Moral of the story: KEEP SUGAR-FREE GUM AWAY FROM DOGS (and potentially murderous cats)


  1. Poor Mason! I would keep an eye on that one, I would expect some form of retribution soon

  2. OMG, so glad to hear Mason is OK! What a scary experience!

  3. Aww poor Mason! But gosh is he adorable glad he is okay! :)