WTOL Special Report: Sugar-free gum can be deadly for your pet - CBS 5 - KPHO

WTOL Special Report: Sugar-free gum can be deadly for your pet

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(Toledo News Now) -

An ingredient found in many sugar-free gums could be potentially deadly to your pet.

William Fogel is close to the Toledo News Now family. He is a photojournalist at the station, but at home he is a family man who suffered a painful loss after his dog Maggie passed away suddenly.

"[I] came home and found her sitting on the couch just like she normally would be," Fogel said. "She had eaten a package of gum."

Later Fogel and his family noticed Maggie acting tired and not like herself. He and his wife decided if she wasn't feeling better the next morning, they'd take her to the vet. But it was too late.

"Well, the next day we woke up and she wasn't with us," he said.

Maggie ate Orbit gum, which contains Xylitol. It's good for humans who are diabetic or on low-carb diets, and even contains anti-cavity properties, but for dogs, it can be deadly.

"The problem is, for dogs it's very rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream," explained Dr. Todd Smith, a vet at Temperance Animal Hospital. "What happens is that rush of Xylitol in the bloodstream will cause a spike in insulin. That spike in insulin will cause your blood-glucose (or sugar) levels to drop very rapidly, so these dogs become hypoglycemic (very low blood sugar) within a very short period of time."

Dr. Smith also said another concern with Xylitol is it only takes a very small amount to cause problems.

"One to two pieces of gum could actually cause a problem in a 20-pound dog," he said.

The ASPCA's Animal Poison Control only started tracking Xylitol in 2007. In that year, they received fewer than 1,000 calls. Now they're receiving up to 6,000 calls per year.

"The thing with Xylitol is there is no antidote for it, so once they've ingested it, there is nothing you can do to stop that product from affecting the pet," Smith said. "But what we can do is get them on IV fluids and supplement the sugar through those IV fluids."

And Orbit isn't the only gum with Xylitol as a sugar substitute. Sugar-free Trident and Mentos are two other brands to keep away from your pets.

If you think your dog has eaten these, look for symptoms of vomiting, light-headedness and seizures and call your veterinarian immediately.

"Pets are pets, but I know that people are in-tune [with their pet]," Fogel said. "Sometimes that's the only friend they have, and I just don't want to see a package of gum come between two people, or a person and their pet."

FDA warns pet owners on dangers of Xylitol ingestion in dogs and ferrets

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