We’re pleased to share a special guest post from our pals at Preventive Vet, a collective of veterinarians, respected trainers, and devoted pet lovers. Preventive Vet’s mission is to educate and spread awareness about simple ways we can keep our pets safe and healthy. One of those ways involves protecting dogs from xylitol, the natural sweetener used in Sugar-Free Glee Gum. Read on to learn why Sugar-Free Glee, and all products containing xylitol, should be kept far away from pooches– plus tips on how to do so, and what to do right away if your dog somehow manages to get your gum!
Sugar-free gum and xylitol: Important awareness for dog lovers
Just what exactly is xylitol? It’s a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener and can be found in many sugar-free gums and other sugar-free, lo-carb, and “no artificial sweetener” treats. Xylitol is a common alternative to sugar because it doesn’t affect your blood sugar levels, and it has positive benefits for your teeth. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for our four-legged friends! Xylitol can be extremely dangerous to dogs, even in very small amounts.
If your dog decides to go for a taste of your sugar-free gum, sugar-free mints, peanut butter, or even lip balm or other cosmetics that may contain xylitol, there’s likely to be some very serious consequences. When a dog ingests xylitol, they can experience a rapid drop in blood sugar and damage to their liver, with symptoms including weakness, vomiting, seizures, bleeding abnormalities, and the risk of death. Not to mention, a very worried pet owner and an expensive stay in the Animal ER. Signs can come on in as little as 30 minutes, so time is truly of the essence!
How can I protect my pet from xylitol?
You can prevent a frightening situation by adopting these good habits.
• Hang jackets, bags, purses, and other bags in a closed closet, or high up and out of reach. A clever dog might figure out how to access your sugar-free goodies if they are left on a coffee table or in the pocket of a coat hanging off the back of a chair.
• Consider a dog seatbelt or proper travel restraint when riding in the car. Not only does it keep your pup out of your purse (where he may find sugar-free gum, or a host of other common purse hazards) but it also keeps everyone safe in case of an accident or sudden stop.
• Be mindful about what you set on end tables, coffee tables, and nightstands, both in your home and when visiting a friend or neighbor’s house with a doggy resident.
• Throw out chewed gum in covered trashcans, because even chewed gum could still contain enough xylitol to cause harm to a dog that likes to go dumpster diving.
• Make sure your friends and neighbors are aware of the dangers of xylitol to dogs. Spreading the word will help to keep everyone’s dogs safe!
• Appreciate responsible companies like Glee who care about you and your pets enough to work with pet safety experts to spread awareness.
I think my dog ate my gum, now what?
Some dogs are very clever, and accidents can happen, so if you think your dog may have eaten a food or product that contains xylitol, be sure to:
- Take away any remaining gum or xylitol-containing product to prevent them from consuming any more than they already have.
- Check the labels to see if there is xylitol in the products they ate – not all gums contain xylitol. Fortunately, Glee very clearly lists on their packaging if a gum contains xylitol, as well as the amount per piece of gum.
- Call an animal-specific poison control hotline (either ASPCA-Animal Poison Control Center or Pet Poison Helpline) for advice on what to do and what to watch for. Tell them what he ate, how much of it he ate, and how long ago he ate it. Do this even if you’re unsure if the product your dog ate contained xylitol, and even if he seems normal. They are your best resources for information and peace of mind.
- If your dog shows symptoms like vomiting, staggering, weakness, seizures or other concerning signs, get to your vet ASAP, and bring the gum packaging if you can. If your vet is closed, head straight to the closest Animal ER. (Not sure where the nearest one is? Find one here.)
What about cats—is xylitol dangerous for them, too?
At the time of writing, there have been no reported cases of xylitol poisoning in cats, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safe for cats to consume. It’s best to take the same precautions to keep gum away from prying paws, and contact your vet or poison control if your cat does get into any xylitol products.
Now that you have all the facts, you can safely protect your pets from xylitol while you continue enjoying your Glee Gum!