Could your dog be killed by sweetness? One family was left devasted after their family dog ate chewing gum containing a deadly sugar substitute known as xylitol.
By, 1 Sep 2019
Winston, a three-year-old German Shepherd/Golden Retriever cross came across the chewing gum while out walking with his owners near the family home in Littleborough, Greater Manchester.
The piece of gum contained the low-calorie sweetener xylitol found in a variety of products and human foods.
Winston seemed fine for around half an hour afterwards, but he quickly became lethargic and began to vomit. Just two days later vets told the heartbroken family that they had no choice but to put poor Winston to sleep.
It was confirmed that Winston had suffered xylitol poisoning. He was put on a glucose drip as he couldn’t manage his blood sugar levels. But the treatment didn’t work and his family were forced to say a final goodbye to their beloved canine companion.
The family are now keen to share their story to make other dog owners aware of the dangers of sweeteners like xylitol. Kirsty Lanyon, her husband Dave, and four-year-old daughter Amelia are devastated by Winston’s death.
Kirsty said:“All dog owners need to be aware of the dangers of xylitol and how it's in so many items just lying about your houses. Those brownies or cupcakes you made from a packet mix? Full of it. That pizza you got from the takeaway? Full of it.
"Your toothpaste, pasta, peanut butter, anything that says sugar-free it's probably in there too. But it won't be labelled xylitol, it's labelled 'sugar alcohol'.”
Warning to dog owners
Commenting on Kirsty’s post, one person said:
“Omg Kirsty I'm so sorry, this happened to our dog about six years ago, we're unsure what exactly he got hold of but I opened the back door to see him frothing at the mouth and fitting, the vets said whatever he managed to get (most likely to be chewing gum) had poisoned him.”
Kirsty hopes the message will spread to dog owners around the country, as one dog owner posted:
“Taught me something Kirsty, especially having a puppy. I shall keep a very close eye on her when she's sniffing on her walks, I do anyway but shall look quicker.”
Found in a huge number of foods
Xylitol is safe for humans and used as a popular sugar substitute in a variety of food products such as toothpaste, sweets, peanut butter products, chewing gum, cough syrup and baked desserts. But for dogs, even small amounts of xylitol can cause insulin release resulting in liver failure, which can be fatal. There were 250 reported cases in the UK of xylitol dog poisoning in just 2016 alone. Most of these cases were a result of sneaky dogs getting their paws on sugar-free chewing gum.
How to spot xylitol poisoning
When a dog consumes xylitol, it quickly becomes absorbed into their bloodstream and releases insulin. This sudden spike in insulin can cause a dog’s blood sugar levels to drop dangerously low, causing hypoglycaemia.
Signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs can include lethargy, vomiting, difficulty standing or walking, seizures and even coma. These symptoms can start within 15 to 30 minutes of your dog consuming xylitol, while some dogs have died within just one hour. But what is extremely worrying is that some dogs don’t show any symptoms until it is too late.
An RSPCA spokesman said: “This sounds like a tragic incident and our thoughts go out to Winston's owner. If you suspect your dog may have been poisoned please ring your vet straight away.”