Missing Layla: the dangers of xylitol poisoning

Even with Dobby and Mischief asleep next to me, my house feels empty today. It’s easy to take what you have for granted until it’s not there, and today I’m missing Layla like crazy. I’m lucky that this isn’t a permanent loss, but only a temporary one. Layla is spending the weekend at the emergency vet clinic, and the house is empty without her.

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Layla was lucky. Last night, she got into a pack of gum containing xylitol, an artificial sweetener. Had I not caught her eating the pack and recognized the danger, things may have turned out very differently. My house might have been empty forever. Just the thought of losing her feels like a physical blow.

Xylitol is an artifical sweetener frequently used in sugarfree gum, candies, and baked goods. It has some oral health benefits for people and is frequently used as a sugar substitute for people who cannot have real sugar. It’s also highly toxic to dogs.

Even a small bit of xylitol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar. The first symptoms of xylitol poisoning are oftentimes vomiting, glazed eyes, weakness, lethargy or depression, and ataxia (balance issues). These can be followed by seizures and coma. Larger doses can lead to hypokalemia (decreased potassium) and liver failure.

As soon as I found Layla eating the gum, I gave her hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. While my other two dogs both threw up, Layla didn’t, and was rushed to the e-vet where they were finally able to get her to vomit about 45 minutes after she ate the gum. By that time she was feeling poorly enough to be cooperative with several strangers handling her, inserting a catheter and taking blood.

As of this afternoon, Layla’s prognosis is good. Her glucose and liver values are great, and she’s being kept on fluids and continually monitored. If she continues to do well, she can come home Sunday evening or Monday morning.

Layla was lucky. She was lucky that I recognized the danger soon enough to get her treated before she began showing serious symptoms. She was lucky to have a great veterinary team ready to help her. She was lucky that I have enough in savings to cover her treatment and hospitalization so that she could get the care she needs. She was lucky that she’s otherwise strong and healthy.

Not every dog is as lucky as Layla.The number of cases of xylitol toxicity continues to climb each year as this ingredient becomes more common as a sugar substitute. Many dogs don’t make it. Poisoning from other common human foods, including chocolate, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, and onions are also sadly too common.

It’s empty in my house today, but it won’t be forever. Layla was lucky, and she will be coming home. Please make sure to keep toxic substances out of reach of your pets so that you, too, can continue to enjoy the company of your best friend for many years to come.

10 responses to “Missing Layla: the dangers of xylitol poisoning

  1. I am so sorry to hear of Layla’s unhappy experience. Thank God for the extraordinary people in her life.

  2. I too, am sensitive to aritficial sweeteners. Given the dangers of even a small amount of Xylitol to a dog, I refuse to buy it or have it anywhere in my house. All it takes is that one time it gets dropped on the floor.

    I’m glad Layla is going to be all right.

  3. There is nothing harder than an empty house… get better soon Layla.

  4. I’m so glad for you all. And glad that you have a platform to spread the information about Xylitol and how many things it’s used in. May your house soon be abuzz with Layla-ness!

  5. Wow! I will make sure I keep clear of that stuff!! Elsie xxxx
    ps get well soonx

  6. At least you’ll have a Merry Christmas, though a little poorer. Can’t put a price on your dog. Thanks for sharing important info.

  7. Hope Laya is well and home soon. Thank you for sharing this. I knew about chocolate but not any of the others. This is something every dog owner should know! I wish you and Laya Seasons Greetings and healthy new year-.

  8. Oh dear, so glad Layla will make a full recovery and can come home to her family. The golden I had in HS got into sugar free gum once, thankfully she made it, but she was definitely not right for several days, as we didn’t know what was making her sick till we found chewed wrappers several days later. Thanks for letting others know about the dangers sugar free gum can pose. And as a reference, our golden was 95 lbs and got into no more than 3 or 4 pieces of Orbit gum :p

  9. o.m.g this is serious and needs to be made public to every dog owner on the planet because i bet hardly anyone knows about this , i knew about chocolate buyt non of the others. thanks

  10. Reblogged this on Artemis Flight Books and commented:
    If you love dogs, please read this!

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