Patient of the Month – Ace’s Story

Once upon a time, Miss Ace the wonder dog, a 30 kg Chocolate Labrador was tired of eating her good quality, expensive dog food that her folks so lovingly dished out every morning and night, and decided to go on an exciting scavenger hunt. She wanted something sweet, and minty fresh, that would give her teeth a pearly white gleam. She was determined that there must be something better and sweeter out there in the world (her 300 sq. ft. world aka the kitchen).  On the eve of a fancy dinner party which her folks were scheduled to attend, she spotted exactly what she had always longed for… a big, shiny pot of ‘sugar-free gum’.

“Oooooo… that must taste nice and I will never have to endure another tooth brushing session again” she thought in excitement.

“But why don’t they give it to me? Why is it placed on the highest shelf that I clearly am unable to get to? Why, oh why are they not sharing this with me, their best furry buddy in the whole wide world?! That’s okay… I have found a way to this pot of gold – the spearmint xylo gum. I have mapped out the entire house and have figured out that if I climb up onto the table and gave a flying leap, I could shake the wall just enough to knock the giant tub onto the floor!! Yes, I got it! It is time to feast!”

Unfortunately, for Miss Ace the wonder dog… sugar-free Xylitol gum is toxic and can be lethal to dogs, which is why her folks kept it up on the top shelf.  Depending on the product and concentration of xylitol, a single stick of gum can be enough to poison a small dog. In the canine body, the pancreas confuses xylitol with real sugar and releases a large amount of insulin. This can cause severe hypoglycemia (very low blood sugar) resulting in weakness, tremors, and potentially seizures. Symptoms can begin within 30 minutes and last for as long as 12 hours. Other reactions associated with xylitol include the destruction of liver tissues. Depending on the dosage, liver damage can be minimal and reversible, but in certain cases can, unfortunately, cause complete liver failure and death.

When Ace’s folks came back from their fancy dinner party they found Miss Ace shaking and drooling on the floor with gum scattered all over and a chewed-up gum container. Luckily for her, she was rushed AdelaideVet just in time. We induced vomiting, which successfully brought out some pieces of chewed up gum.  She was immediately started on intravenous fluids and her severely low blood sugar was replaced with intravenous glucose.  Her blood profile showed elevated liver values, which indicated mild liver insult.  Fortunately, after being hospitalized for 48 hours her glucose and liver values all normalised.  She was the super-star guest in the clinic because despite everything that happened, she never once said  ‘no’ to her breakfast, snacks, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and supper. 

Miss Ace returned to her hyper crazy self, ready to go on to the next big food adventure… maybe eating a whole bunch of raw yeasty cinnamon scroll dough that her pet sitters set out to bake while her folks were away? Sounds yum!

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