Crossbreed Pheonix needs emergency treatment for xylitol toxicity

A rescue dog is lucky to be alive – after he scoffed a tub of Starburst chewy sweets.

Cheeky Phoenix wolfed down the sugar-free “fruity mixies” after finding a box of them on owner Teresa Dade’s sofa.

Teacher Teresa, of Eastbourne, East Sussex, was out while Phoenix was tucking into the illicit feast.

But she realised something was wrong when she came home and found a suspiciously empty Starburst box had been transported up to her bedroom.

Sweets or chewing gum containing the sugar substitute xylitol can be highly dangerous for dogs, causing critically low blood sugar levels and even liver failure.

Starburst fruity mixies, which are described as a mix between chewing gum and sweets, contain particularly high levels of xylitol.

  1. Phoenix's ordeal

    Phoenix needed emergency veterinary treatment for xylitol toxicity after scoffing a tub of sugar-free Starburst chewy sweets.

    Image of Phoenix the dog for Vets Now article on dog ate sugar free gum
  2. Phoenix's ordeal

    Phoenix needed emergency veterinary treatment for xylitol toxicity after scoffing a tub of sugar-free Starburst chewy sweets.

    Image of Phoenix the dog for Vets Now article on dog ate sugar free gum
  3. Phoenix's ordeal

    Phoenix needed emergency veterinary treatment for xylitol toxicity after scoffing a tub of sugar-free Starburst chewy sweets.

    Image of Phoenix the dog for Vets Now article on dog ate sugar free gum

Fearing the worst, Teresa did a Google search, took one look at the results and quickly called the Vets Now pet emergency clinic in Eastbourne.

Staff arranged for eight-year-old crossbreed Phoenix to be admitted straight away for urgent tests.

Fortunately for Phoenix, there was no major harm done.

Teresa, 59, said: “Phoenix had a very lucky escape.

“The gums were in a box on the sofa. While we were out Phoenix managed to get into the box and eat the whole lot.

“He’s always keen on eating things he shouldn’t eat and he’s got hold of boxes of chocolates before – but never anything like this.”

Teresa, who adopted Phoenix from Romania after seeing his mischievous face on the website of a dog refuge, said: “He’s very determined when he wants to be.

“The minute I realised what had happened, I knew we had a problem.

“As soon as I went on to the internet, I started reading about how toxic some chewing gum can be for animals and realised Phoenix would need to go to the vet straight away.

“He’d already had his dinner by the time it dawned on us he’d got the gum and, in actual fact, he seemed fine – but I didn’t want to take any chances.”

Laura Playforth, Vets Now’s professional standards director, said Teresa definitely did the right thing in rushing Phoenix in.

She added: “A recent study into ingestion of this product reported that it commonly causes severe hypoglycaemia in dogs within one to two hours of ingestion.

“In traditional types of sugar-free gum, clinical signs don’t tend to show for up to 12 hours.

“One of the recommendations from the study was that dogs who swallow Starburst gums should be taken to a vet immediately for assessment and treatment.

“It goes to show that Phoenix is a lucky dog – and there’s no doubt Phoenix is an extremely appropriate name for him!”

Image of Phoenix the dog for Vets Now article on dog ate sugar free gum
Phoenix with his owner

Signs of xylitol poisoning include vomiting, convulsions and collapse and treatment usually involves inducing sickness, giving fluids and replenishing blood glucose levels and prescribing activated charcoal to absorb any leftover toxins.

Teresa added: “We’ve had Phoenix for six years and when you’ve got a rescue dog in your family I think you feel even more protective of them if something goes wrong.

“We got him from the Love Underdogs charity – and they do such a brilliant job rescuing dogs who’ve been abandoned or mistreated.”

The Vets Now clinic in Eastbourne — where Phoenix received treatment — is one of more than 60 across the UK that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.

All of Vets Now’s premises have a vet and vet nurse on-site at all times.

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