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Chihuahua Recovers From Toxic Effects of Sugarless Chewing Gum

Photo of Poppa During Hospitalization For Xylitol ToxicityPoppa’s Orbit(-al) Adventure A patient suffering from one of the fastest growing canine toxicities presented with the need for rapid detoxification. No, the dog did not overdose on medical marijuana baked goods (not an uncommon, inappropriately consumed treat in West Hollywood); he snuck into his mom’s purse and found her half-full pack of Wrigley's Orbit Strawberry Mint sugar free chewing gum. Poppa is a very sweet Chihuahua with a reputation for dietary indiscretion. According to his mother, Poppa and his feline companion, Pumpkin, conspire in these incidences. Evidently, the Pumpkin acts as Poppa’s enabler by knocking items off of the countertop or creating a scenario where access to forbidden consumables is more easily permitted. Pumpkin reportedly aided Poppa’s ingestion of the Orbit gum from his mother’s pocketbook. Photo of Poppa And Pumpkin Are Partners In Crime I more commonly see dogs ingest gum encased on a paper wrapper than that in a sealed blister pack. Orbit gum produces an appealing scent that permeates the paper wrapper containing each piece. Test it yourself, as there is no such detectable smell from gum where each piece is “blister wrapped” like Trident White. The strong aroma emanating from Orbit gum prompts a dog, like Poppa, to commit the act of inappropriate ingestion. In my clinical practice I often face situations where an owner is unaware that a substance having a potentially toxic effect has been consumed by their pet. A variety of manufactured and natural substances can cause toxicity to multiple body systems. The Xylitol (sugar alcohol which acts as a sugar substitute) in sugar free gum only needs to be consumed in small quantities to cause hypoglycemia (reduced blood sugar), liver damage, and diarrhea. A dog of Poppa’s size will suffer toxic effects from consuming only a few pieces of gum. An estimated 7 pieces of the gum were consumed by Poppa on that fateful day. A consultation with a board certified veterinary toxicologist at the APSCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) yielded valuable information directing the treating veterinarian (your’s truly) in providing the best treatment for Poppa’s particular condition. Emesis induction (vomiting) was recommended to initiate the decontamination process. Fortunately, Poppa vomited several pieces of gum when given an injection of Apomorphine. Baseline blood testing showed normal blood glucose and liver values. The hypoglycemic effects of Xylitol typically last for at least 24 hours, so Poppa was started on IV fluids containing dextrose (sugar) to combat the likelihood his blood glucose would drop. Additionally, Poppa received a Sam-E and Milk Thistle supplement to support his liver function. Besides having transient diarrhea, Poppa suffered no further ill effects of Xylitol toxicity. His follow up blood tests revealed normal liver values and Poppa was discharged from the hospital. Photo of Poppa Celebrates The Holidays With Santa I sympathize with Poppa, as there was no malicious intent on his part to consume the delicious smelling Orbit gum. Thankfully, Poppa’s very concerned owner immediately brought him to a veterinarian for evaluation and treatment. Hopefully, Pumpkin won’t facilitate her canine housemate's further consumption of inappropriate items. Related Article Canine Toxicity From Sugarless Chewing Gum Containing Xylitol Please feel free to leave your comments or communicate with me through email ( or Twitter (@PatrickMahaney). Thank you for reading my article. To receive my next veterinary posting via email, please press the “Don’t Miss a Blog Post” button on the right upper corner of this page or follow this link. Make sure to follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by friending Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook. Copyright of this article (2011) is owned by Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr. Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr. Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.
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