Ingredient in gum poses lethal threat to dogs

Sugar-free gum contains Xylitol, which can have lethal effects in dogs.
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You might have items lying around your house that are okay for you, but can be a danger to dogs because of an ingredient in them.

Nathan and Sarah Brown and their dog Bentley found that out the hard way recently.

"He's a big part of our life and he' looks like he's going to live a long, healthy life," said Nathan Brown.

Just five days ago, though, the Browns weren't so sure Bentley would make it through the night. It was all because of an item many of us have used before, not even realizing it contains an ingredient that is literally poison to a dog.

"How many people at home right now, have just canisters of sugar-free gum?" asked Nathan.

Sarah had two in her purse that Bentley found and ate. Within minutes, the dog wasn't acting right.

"He started walking funny. So I was, like, 'Okay, that's weird'," recalled Sarah.

"I just kind of thought, 'Hey, he ate 60 pieces of gum. His stomach probably hurts, right?'" remembered Nathan.

Nathan couldn't have been more wrong. By the time the Browns got Bentley to the veterinarian not 30 minutes later, the dog was seizing from low blood sugar and headed for liver failure.

"You're watching your dog die and, you know, can't do anything about it," said Nathan.

"If I had a pet, I wouldn't have it. I just wouldn't have it," said Dr. Anthony Buzzetti with Dr. Buzzetti's Companion Animal Medical Center  in Carmel.

Buzzetti was talking about a sugar substitute called Xylitol found in many sugar-free products, like gum.

"Because the gum isn't made for pets, they don't have to label it, you know, that this is toxic to pets," he said.

The smaller the dog, according to Buzzetti, the less Xylitol it would take to harm it.

"A 65-pound dog, five or six sticks," Buzzetti said of the amount of sugar-free gum with Xylitol it would take to kill a bigger dog.

Eyewitness News went to a local grocery store and didn't just find Xylitol in sugar-free gum. We also found it some sugar-free candy. In a report issued last year, the FDA said Xylitol can be found in sugar substitutes used for baking.

"It's actually scary to know that an ingredient in sugar-free gum, who would have known that could kill something?" said Sarah Brown.

"It's just staggering the amount of normal things you have around your house are deadly to dogs," added her husband Nathan.

While the Brown's dog Bentley might not have nine lives, like some have said cats do, it was lucky for Bentley and his owners, he at least had two.

"Absolutely love this dog," said Nathan.

Xylitol can also be harmful to cats, but it has proven to be the most lethal for dogs.

The veterinarian Eyewitness News talked with today, said if your dog eats something with Xylitol in it, every minute counts and you need to get it to a veterinarian for treatment right away.