A Teachable Moment? Delilah Gives Her ‘Mom’ A Scare!

At Sault Ste. Marie Animal Clinic, we are all not only pet lovers, but pet owners/pet parents too. As such, we often go through many of the same highs and lows that our clients do with their pets. We thought we would share a story about a recent scare Delilah, a one-year-old Chihuahua, gave her ‘mom’, Dr. Robin Lewis-Palmer.

“I was enjoying a relaxed Sunday morning where, for the most part, Delilah had been with me or within sight. At one point, I walked into a bedroom and heard a crunching sound coming from under the bed. This was not unusual as Delilah often hides out under the bed with various treasures she has collected from around the house – usually toys, socks and pieces of paper. My heart sank however, when I looked and found her chewing on sugar free gum packaging and a partial piece of what appeared to be gum! “

Delilah feeling nauseous after being induced to vomit

As you may or may not be aware, many brands of sugar free gum contain xylitol – a sweetener which is extremely toxic to dogs. To make a long story short, Delilah is completely fine. She was taken to the clinic and made to vomit her breakfast, along with whatever gum she may have swallowed, and she was none the worse for wear. We thought this story was worth sharing however, for two reasons:

1. It is a good reminder of just how easily and quickly pets can get into potentially harmful products or situations. Delilah was with Dr. L-P ‘most’ of the morning – but it can just take a moment for them to get themselves into trouble – in this case, it was a garbage can in a room where the door is normally closed.
2. It is also a good reminder that although Xylitol appears to be perfectly safe for people, it is VERY toxic to dogs. For dogs, it triggers massive insulin release which then causes extremely low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). This can lead to severe disorientation, seizures and even death. Even for dogs that survive the initial period, some go on to develop liver failure. There is an ever-increasing range of products that contain Xylitol – but the most common ones are sugar free gum, candies and some types of peanut butter. One of the biggest risk factors is that people tend to carry the gum or candies in their purse, back pack or gym bag – then leave these bags on the floor or other area where the dog can get into it. Even if you don’t use or have Xylitol containing products in your house, your friends or visitors might – something to be aware of!

If you think your dog may have eaten a Xylitol containing product call your veterinarian ASAP.

1. Have pen and paper handy to write down relevant addresses and or phone numbers as you may be directed to a different veterinary office outside of regular hours.
2. Bring any product wrappers and or vomit from your pet with you to the emergency veterinarian as this may help them determine the dose your dog has potentially been exposed to and help direct appropriate treatment.

For more information about here are links to more information about Xylitol toxicity in dogs:

Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

Products containing Xylitol