A PET dog has died after it was poisoned by a piece of discarded chewing gum.
The heartbroken owners of Winston say their pooch was killed by the artificial sweetener remaining in the gum.
The family from Littleborough, Greater Manchester, today urged dog owners to be aware of the danger posed to pets by xylitol, which is used in numerous products commonly found in homes.
Winston, three, a golden retriever/German shepherd cross, ate a piece of gum that had not been put in the bin.
He continued behaving normally, including chasing a football around a playpark, but after returning home 30 minutes later he became lethargic and started vomiting.
An emergency vet confirmed xylitol poisoning and put Winston on a glucose drip because he could no longer manage his blood sugar levels,
After two days, Winston was taken off the drip but was still unable to manage his own sugar levels. It was agreed there was no alternative but to have him put down.
His family, Kirsty (31) and Dave Lanyon (36), have been devastated by his death.
Their four-year-old daughter Amelia is also heartbroken and doesn’t understand why Winston had to go to “heaven”.
Kirsty is now trying to spread awareness of the dangers of Xylitol, and posted about Winston’s death on Facebook.
She wrote: “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/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’.”
Referring to Amelia, she added: “His 4 year old sister doesn’t quite understand, hearing her ask over and over why Winston had to go heaven is horrendous in ways you couldn’t imagine.
“In memory of our beloved Winston, check your cupboards, check everything you give your dog. And keep as close an eye on them as possible when out walking.
“We’d never heard of it, so when our boy started vomiting and then collapsed within 30 mins of getting home from his last ever walk, our last ever walk as a family of 4, we were clueless.
“If that happens get them to an emergency vet as soon as possible as even then, like for Winston and us, it may already be too late.”
Speaking today, Kirsty said: “Words actually can’t describe what it’s been like to lose him. But if we can raise awareness of the dangers of xylitol, it’s a small consolation.”
Kerrie Hopkins responded to Kirsty’s post: “Heartbroken for you all … Sending love and hugs.”
Gemma Parker wrote: “Omg Kirsty I’m so sorry, this happened to our dog about six years ago, we’re unsure what exactly he got hold off 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.”
Frances Buterworth wrote: “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.”
An RSPCA spokeswoman 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.”
Xylitol is a low calorie sweetener and it is used as an alternative to sugar. It is also known as E967 and can be commonly used in baking. It is also regularly found in sugar-free chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, vitamin supplements and in a small handful of peanut butter brands.
A dog’s pancreas will confuse Xylitol with real sugar and it will release more insulin, which removes the real sugar in a dog’s body, causing hypoglycemia.
Symptoms can be rapid or delayed for up to 12 hours so do not wait for symptoms to appear before going to the vet.