Help! My Dog Ate Gummy Vitamins

Photo by Mike Mozart on Flickr

Everyone needs vitamins, and dogs are no different. But, can they have human vitamins? What happens if your dog somehow gets hold of your stash of gummy vitamins? Since gummy vitamins are usually marketed at kids, they’ll probably be lying around on the floor somewhere, half-chewed and gross. That’s a prime snack opportunity for any dog.

So, what now? Let’s find out.

What are gummy vitamins?

If you don’t like swallowing pills, gummy vitamins might just be the solution for you. These vitamins look like gummy sweets, and have the same texture. So, it’s your regular vitamins but dressed up like sweets. A spoon full of sugar, anyone? Okay, enough with the Mary Poppins references.

This yummy version of your drab grownup vitamins come in a variety of colors, shapes, and flavors. It’s so tasty, it almost feels like cheating. That’s precisely what you need when your toddler flat-out refuses to take those oh-so-necessary vitamins in tablet form. Have you ever met a toddler who refuses sweets?

Usually, gummy vitamins contain gelatin, corn starch, sugar, water, colorings, flavoring, and then, of course, the actual vitamins.

How many different products are in their range?

The gummy vitamin market is flooded with an enormous range of products. Shopping for these is almost like going to Willy Wonka’s candy factory.

A quick internet search reveals a surprisingly wide range of brands, each with its own collection of targeted products. There’s something for everyone, from kids to adults, covering every stage of life.

What are the most dangerous vitamins for a dog?

Dogs need vitamins, just like people do. Unfortunately, what’s healthy for us is potentially lethal for our fur kids. The most notorious culprits are Vitamins D and A and iron. Ingesting any of these can be fatal to your fur kid. If your vitamins are the sugar-free kind, then they probably contain xylitol, which is even more dangerous. More on that later.

When your pup ingests too much Vitamin D, he will suffer from muscle tremors and seizures.

Iron poisoning in dogs causes shock and toxicity.

If your pup gets a regular dose of vitamin A, you’ll see the long term effects in his coat and skin. His hair will lose its typical shine and start looking dull, while his skin will be dry and itchy. He could also develop paralysis.

Large doses of vitamins will cause severe, immediate complications for your pup. Sometimes, however, they regularly ingest a bit of the stuff, not too much at a time, but enough to have long-term consequences. So, watch out for any signs of ill health or other unusual behavior in your pup.

How do human vitamins (in dosage) differ from dog vitamins?

We need vitamins based on how old we are, how big we are, our general health, and our life stage. Since grown humans are all more or less the same size (compared to the wide variation in dogs, at least), our vitamins tend to come in set doses. Sometimes, minor tweaks are needed, depending on individual needs, as your doctor would recommend.

With dogs, it’s a whole different ball game. They come in various shapes and sizes, and their breed determines their metabolism and other specific needs. Then, you need to factor in the life stage, general health, age, and all the other variables. In short, it’s impossible to prescribe a single dosage of vitamins or any other nutrients for a wide variety of dogs.

This principle applies when your pooch gobbles up your vitamins as well. If your fur kid is tiny, like a Doberman Pincher, even one tiny gummy vitamin could send him over the edge. You’ll have to rush to the vet immediately since the poor pup will probably suffer severe side effects.

However, if you have a giant Great Dane and he nabbed only one gummy, he’ll probably be fine. Just keep an eye on him. If he gobbled up an entire pack of the stuff, though, it’s go time. He’ll need special veterinary care faster than you can say, “don’t eat that!

Do gummy vitamins contain xylitol?

Since gummy vitamins are often marketed to kids, they don’t usually contain xylitol. You see, kids can’t have lots of xylitol, since it would cause a runny tummy and all sorts of other nonsense in their little bodies.

That said, the ones marketed at grownups may contain xylitol, especially when they’re sugar-free or safe for diabetics. So, check the label to be sure.

Xylitol is highly toxic for dogs, and you should never ever allow your dog near the stuff. When your dog eats xylitol, his body confuses it for real sugar, so it starts producing tons of insulin. That’s the hormone that helps digest the sugar in the body. But, since he didn’t actually have sugar, all the healthy sugar in his body gets used up, and his blood sugar level plummets. This leads to hypoglycemia, which is potentially fatal. The smart people have also linked xylitol to liver failure in dogs.

What is the animal poison helpline, and how will they help you?

The pet poison helpline in the States is available 24/7, all year round. Reach them at (855) 764-7661. Note that an incident fee of $59 applies. These guys have expert vets on call to help with any pet poisoning situation, regardless of the animal type.

Once they know what’s going on, they’ll determine whether you can care for your pet at home or if they should be taken to the vet. If home care is sufficient, they’ll explain how you should nurse your fur kid back to health. If you need to see the vet, they’ll work with the vet to develop your pet’s best care plan. Either way, they’ll follow up to see how things are going. 

What are the side effects of eating too many vitamins?

The side effects your dog will likely suffer from eating human vitamins varies depending on the dog, how much he ate, and the content of the vitamins.

If your dog got an overdose of Vitamin D, he’s likely to vomit, possibly with blood. You’ll also notice that he doesn’t want to touch his food, but he’ll obliterate his water from excessive thirst. This will lead to him peeing a lot more than usual. He could also have some bloody stools and constipation, accompanied by general weakness. So, if your pup looks all limp and not himself, pay attention. Your poor fur kid may drool a lot, have abdominal pain, muscle tremors, and seizures. Not a pretty picture.

With iron, things get a bit tricky. Your pup could be seriously ill, then seem to get well again, after which he’ll suffer liver failure. So, it’s often hard to tell whether dogs suffering from iron poisoning are actually getting better or if they’re in the first stages of liver failure. Signs to look out for include fever, fatigue, shock, increased heart rate, runny nose, agitation, abdominal swelling, and collapse. These are all scary things.

Xylitol is a nasty one. You already know why it’s super toxic for dogs from the section on xylitol, but we haven’t covered the symptoms yet. Look out for restlessness, weakness, and drowsiness.

That’s because of the sharp decrease in blood sugar levels. Additionally, your poor fur kid might experience muscle tremors, convulsions, diarrhea (often accompanied by blood), increased heart rate, and low blood pressure. As things progress, your dog might lose control of his bodily movements and finally have seizures and collapse because of hypoglycemia.

Folks, this is serious stuff. If you suspect that your pup had some of your vitamins, don’t wait for him to develop symptoms. Rush him to the vet immediately. Or, if you do spot any of these symptoms, call the vet. It could be a life or death situation.

How can I stop my dog from eating gummy vitamins?

The logical and straightforward solution is to keep your vitamins locked away where your dog definitely can’t reach them. Don’t take any chances. If your dog can reach the countertop in any way, don’t leave it there. Don’t leave your vitamins in a handbag or coat pocket where your curious fur kid can accidentally access it and mistake it for a yummy treat. Given the seriousness of the consequences, it’s simply not worth it.

Closing Thoughts

Vitamin poisoning is a severe risk to dogs. Don’t let your pup have any of your human vitamins, ever, since it could literally kill him. If you suspect your pup had some of your gummy vitamins, rush him to the vet or call the 24-hour pet poison helpline at (855) 764-7661 immediately. Rather be on the safe, and potentially paranoid, side with this one.