Health/Fitness

Artificial sweetener toxic to dogs

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Wake County woman learned a hard lesson after her dog almost died from eating her chewing gum.

The gum contained an ingredient veterinarians say is extremely toxic to dogs even in very small amounts.

Casey is Carol Svec's beloved dog of seven years and like many dog lovers, Svec couldn't imagine her life with Casey.

"She actually went into a tiny flap, pulled out my wallet, pulled out a half pack of sugarless gum and ate it," Svec said.

After calling her veterinarian, Svec was instructed to bring Casey in immediately.

She was shocked to learn xylitol was the cause for the dog's illness. It's a substitute sweetener found in many gums. The sweetener is supposed to be good for your teeth, but it is toxic to dogs.

"Everybody knows that you don't feed a dog chocolate and you don't feed a dog grapes and raisins," Svec explained. "Nobody ever told me not to let my dog get a hold of my sugarless gum."

Casey had to be hospitalized and she almost died.

"Casey could have died at least three times over the past three days," Svec said. "Her blood sugar crashed and it would be the equivalent of a dog going into a diabetic coma."

Veterinarians say tt only takes two pieces of gum to produce signs of toxicity in dogs.

"When a dog eats the xylitol, it is absorbed very rapidly in their system, so it causes a release of enzymes which causes a drop in blood sugar," explained Dr. Joe Gordon, Care First Animal Hospital in Raleigh. "The dogs can become very lethargic and may actually result in them having seizures."

Xylitol also can cause liver tissue to die and it can cause internal bleeding.

Dr. Gordon says more dogs are being affected. "Xylitol toxicity is an emerging problem because it's becoming so common in gums and candies. Also, people are starting to cook with it."

At this time, no one knows if Casey will have long term damage from eating the gum.

"This will be the most expensive pack of gum I ever had," Svec said. "This so far, is costing us over a thousand dollars for the treatment and were going to have to have a minimum of five follow-up visits over the course of the next six months."

Casey's owner has created a website to teach for dog owners about the dangers of xylitol and to keep people updated on Casey's recovery.

Click here to visit the website.

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