Golden Retriever Dies after Eating Sugarless Gum

golden retriever died from xylitol gum

Luna, a 2-year-old Golden Retriever, chewed open a pack of Ice Breakers sugarless gum Monday night and ate its entire contents. One day later, Luna had to be euthanized due to the severe liver damage she suffered.

“She was like our first child,” Luna’s grief-stricken dog mom, Samantha Caress of Glenwood City, Wisc., told KARE.

Luna had found the gum when Caress and her boyfriend, Jordan Pellett, were not at home. When she appeared to be sick Tuesday morning, they rushed her to an animal emergency hospital and left her there for treatment.

The hospital called the couple a few hours later. “They said her blood came back and it wasn’t good,” Caress told KARE.

Medical care for Luna’s liver failure would have cost $20,000, which the couple could not afford. “And they said it was still only a 25-percent chance that she would live from it,” Caress said, crying. “We just didn’t want her to suffer, so we had to put her down.”

Xylitol Is Extremely Toxic for Dogs

Xylitol, a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener, is highly toxic for dogs. If ingested, even small amounts can cause hypoglycemia and liver failure. It is a common ingredient in sugarless gum — as well as sugar-free candy and baked goods, along with cough drops, vitamins, toothpaste, dental floss and other common household products.

If xylitol is one of the first five ingredients listed for a product, it is really important to keep the item out of your dog’s reach, as Caress and her family tragically discovered.

“As little as a couple of pieces of gum can result in severe hypoglycemia, a life-threatening drop in blood sugar and actually liver failure,” Dr. Justine Lee, of the Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Minnesota, told KARE.

According to the ASPCA, other artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol and aspartame, will not cause life-threatening liver failure or hypoglycemia, but may cause diarrhea.

Dr. Lee advised pet parents to add contact information for their veterinarian and ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control (888-426-4435) to their phones in case of an emergency.

The symptoms of xylitol poisoning include vomiting, staggering and seizures. Your dog may not show these symptoms until hours after eating the item, when it may be too late. So, if you know your dog has digested xylitol, take him to the vet immediately. Don’t induce vomiting unless your vet instructs you to do so.

To honor their beloved dog, Caress and Pellet have created the Luna’s Gift of Hope account on Donations will go to CoCo’s Heart Dog Rescue in Hudson, Wisc.

“Our goal right now is set at pretty high at $20,000. It is just what it would have cost to try to save Luna,” Caress told KARE. “So, if we could raise all those proceeds to help them save other dogs, that’d be great.”

Photo via Twitter

Laura Goldman

I am a freelance writer and lifelong dog lover. For five years, I was a staff writer for i Love Dogs. When that site shut down, I started this blog...because I STILL Love Dogs!