Wendy Bailys-Weisblat plays a special ball game in the yard with her 7 year old dog Riley.
Showing off his tricks is Riley’s specialty, but two months ago, that kind of attention seeking behavior got him into serious trouble.
“He starts going on the hunt when we’re gone. I was frightened” says Weisblat.
The crafty K-9 ate 17 pieces of gum and though he didn’t look it, he was poisoned.
“The dog wasn’t laying there as if he were poisoned, he was just happy and running around. Said Weisblat. “But I knew gum wasn’t good for dogs. It was a good recommendation to go to an emergency room.”
Products like sugar-free gum, candy and even peanut butter seem pretty harmless, but what you can’t see inside is a chemical called Xylitol and leaving these products around your house for your four-legged friends can be very dangerous.
“As you get into higher doses, you can actually see acute liver failure, so it can absolutely be a life threatening toxin” said doctor Katie Frantz, who has been treating Xylitol cases in dogs for more than a decade.
She says the holidays usually spell trouble for these types of incidents.
“Typically, when there’s family gatherings there’s a lot of commotion, there’s a lot of sweets laying around, so this time of year we are definitely more likely to see various toxicities from pets getting into things they shouldn’t.”
The Pet Poison Helpline reports its already received nearly 3,000 calls about known or suspected K-9 Xylitol ingestions this year—that’s up from just 300 in 2009.
So what can you do about it? For starters, read the labels.
“Know if products that you have contain Xylitol and then keeping them out of reach of the dog. Dr. Frantz said. “A lot of pets that come in having ingested gum get it out of the purse or backpack or it’s sitting on the floor or next to the table somewhere that’s easily accessible.”
She also advises pet owners to act fast if you suspect your dog could be poisoned.