This lovely little pup, Murray Brown, a Hungarian Wirehaired Visla came in to see vet, Catriona Laird as an emergency case one Sunday afternoon. Murray, who was only fifteen weeks old, had eaten a quantity of chewing gum (which contains Xylitol) while out on a walk.
Xylitol is a natural, sugar-free sweetener commonly found in chewing gum, mints, sweets and toothpaste. Ingestion of this substance in dogs can cause acute, life-threatening low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) within 15 minutes. A larger ingestion can result in acute liver necrosis and ultimately, liver failure.
Murray's owner brought him down to the hospital as soon as she was aware he had eaten the gum as she had been advised that it has a toxic effect. Catriona immediately admitted Murray and gave him a substance which induces vomiting, to try and remove as much of it from his system as possible before it was properly digested. We always take advice from the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) to find out information about toxic dose levels of certain substances and how best to treat the animal in question. They calculated that one and a half pieces of chewing gum was over the toxic level for Murray.
On their advice we gave Murray activated charcoal, which acts to bind anything in the gut and take it through the system instead of it being absorbed into the body. He was put on Intravenous (IV) fluids and monitored closely. Repeated blood tests were taken every 1-2 hours to monitor his blood sugar levels.
The following day his blood results, including liver parameters, were all normal and he was eating and drinking well so he was discharged into his owner's care. Murray came in to see us the following two days for repeated blood tests to make sure that there was no signs of any damage to his liver function. Once Catriona was happy that Murray had not suffered any toxic effects of the Xylitol and there was no further cause for concern he was signed off and has not needed to return since.
Murray's owner very kindly sent us this picture of him, fully recovered and out walking with her last week. When we have pets it is really important to be aware of foods, plants and liquids that may be completely harmless to humans but can be toxic to dogs or cats. The natural curiosity of puppies and kittens can lead them to be particularly susceptible to unearthing something that they shouldn't have. If you do suspect that they may have ingested something toxic phone your vet immediately for advice.