A week ago today our beautiful Hungarian Vizsla Ruby died. She was just seven. Losing a beloved family dog is utterly terrible, but our grief is compounded by the fact we might have been able to save her, had we known about xylitol.

Ruby died after eating xylitol, a great (for humans) sugar replacement that’s being used increasingly in foods. But it is lethal for dogs. One small piece of chewing gum sweetened with xylitol (most are – have a look) is enough to kill an 8-10kg dog. One piece. And most dog owners have no idea. Xylitol is found in yogurts, peanut butter, takeaways, cakes… any food that manufacturers want to improve by replacing sugar with a healthier alternative.  Ruby stole two of my homemade brownies. Nothing new – she’s stolen them before from sealed boxes, with no adverse effects – but this time I’d cooked with xylitol. I had no idea that she should be rushed immediately to the vet to begin intensive, invasive treatment which might – just might – have saved her.

Instead it took until she vomited terribly and collapsed 36 hours later for us to go to the vet. It was only when she was transferred to the amazing Royal Veterinary College Hospital that they mentioned, “had I heard of xylitol?”.

After eight days of battling, critically ill in intensive care, she died. We are heartbroken. What good can come of losing a pet who was the centre of our family, loved beyond imagination? We are beside ourselves with sadness and guilt.

Only other dog lovers will understand the level of grief. And I would hate you to go through what we are at the moment. So, please, learn about xylitol. Look for it. Check what you dog’s picked up on the pavement. Was it a piece of discarded chewing gum? Do you put peanut butter in a kong for a treat for your dog? What are the ingredients? Have they ever had a lick of the leftovers from a delicious takeaway? Some better quality restaurants now use xylitol in their cooking. How would you know when you put the container on the floor for your beloved pooch to enjoy?

If you’re not sure – call the Animal PoisonLine, at 01202 509000. And no, I didn’t know about this wonderful service either. For a flat fee of £30 they will assess what your pet has eaten and give you proper advice on what to do and how urgently it needs to be done. It may save your pet’s life. Call the PoisonLine whenever any animal eats anything you have concerns about.Spread the word. We need all dog owners to be aware of this ‘new’ toxin. We need those who drop gum to know they are leaving a trail lethal to man’s best friend. We need vets to think immediately of xylitol, as well as warfarin, when dogs present with poisoning. We need food manufacturers to clearly label foods with xylitol as “lethal to dogs”.

The PoisonLine documents hundreds of deaths from xylitol each year. They think the true figure could be in the thousands. Please don’t let your dog become one of them.

Images by Kate Chacksfield.

This is a guest post by Kate Chacksfield. Want to write for us? Visit www.dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/essay-submission or email editorial@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk

90 COMMENTS

  1. So very sad. Through your suffering you can save somany others by educating us. I never knew about this stuff before reading about your poor dog. Thank you and my deepest heartfelt condolences to you.

  2. We need the the FSA to ban Xylitol from all foods. It usnt a fabulousky friendly product to us, just a gimmick to create the magic words Sugar free!!

      • I agree with Lynne, I am allergic to artificial sweeteners and was lured into using products with Xylitol thinking they were safe. Wrong, I got very ill.

  3. Just devastating I did know but you have to be so careful ie takeaways never thought about that. So sorry to hear about your loss. Hoping this article will save other dogs from the same fate

  4. So very sorry to hear you lost your precious little girl, Ruby. Thank you for your advice on Xylitol also
    We give our little cocker peanut butter but as I had heard of xylitol being poisonous I always check the ingredients in the jar.
    However, I don’t check the ingredients in any leftovers we give him which I will do in future thanks to your article.
    Please don’t feel guilty as every one of us makes mistakes due to lack of knowledge. Ruby I’m sure had an amazing seven years with you and was very happy.
    Our thoughts are with you.

    • Can I ask why you give your dogs peanutbutter? It’s not really a canines normal food? No judgement, i just don’t understand.

  5. I’m so sorry to hear of this. You must be devastated. Can we set up a politico not for government to make sure products have lethal to dogs printed on it.

  6. Such a heart breaking story and I feel for Ruby’s family. I am a cat owner myself and I wouldn’t even let my cat eat human food with artificial sweeteners in it because I do not. I get angry and gave up buying chewing gum and other products because you could only buy artificial sweetened ones and refuse to consume that crap. I am sharing this article because I know so many dog owners here in Australia and although this Xylitol is not as common here as it may be in the US it is only a matter of time.

    Thank you for taking the time in such a difficult time to share this story with others in the hopes of saving someone’s beloved family dog. Bless you.

  7. This is such a heartbreaking story. If only more people were aware. I am so sorry for the loss of your precious baby. I have heard about xylitol and I prefer it over “mainstream” products that contain saccharin, aspartame, splenda aka sucralose, etc. I’m not positive but I’m assuming that these “chemically-based” sweeteners would be just as bad if they were consumed by a pet, yet these have been on the market for many years. I agree that labeling is needed and highly vital to preventing further accidents. We need to know in order to help — awareness and education is key. We must never let our guard down. These animals depend greatly on us for their wellbeing — we are all that they have.

    • Actually it’s justthe xylitol that is toxic. The other artificial sweeteners do not affect pets that way. Some dogs never get hypoglycemic and just go into liver failure. Others do both. Its sad

    • Sean, No the author does not ‘need to research and edit’ – this is her article about her experience and the loss of Ruby published in a dog magazine.

      • Omg agreed! Such a heart wrenching and beautifully written piece that probably took hours to write at a time when time the author’s heart was beaking, and in one minute this jerk jumps in and ‘slams her’ with this snide remark! Unbelivable! Godspeed to Ruby and God bless Kate for sharing her story. I have 2 pets in the house and knew nothing about xylitol. And to Sean, please just keep your rude, ignorant comments to yourself!

  8. Prayers for you and your family. Who would have known. Thank you for sharing your story. You may have saved many more by sharing and educating us about this . Beautiful pictures!

  9. I am so sorry for your loss Kate and see that heroic efforts went into saving your sweet pup… My duaghter in law’s mother had baked cookies – with Xylitol – and their hound stole a whole cookie sheet of them. Someone was looking out for Henri that day – April laughingly posted to FB right away about his counter surfing. I was perusing FB and saw the post within seconds of it being posted, was aware of the danger and phoned her, said get ye to emergency asap, he’s dying as we speak. Docs and techs were waiting at the door for Henri and 4 days later he went home, some permanent damage, but he lived. We have to all start demanding that these dangerous additives be eliminated from the food chain!

  10. Our deepest sympathy goes out to you & your family for the loss of your beautiful furr baby Ruby. I am vigilant when buying peanut butter that it isn’t the sugar free one, but I will only buy one brand that I trust. The Hausofstorm is sending you all huge healing hugs. I was unaware that it was so lethal.

  11. I am so sorry to hear this. We lost our vizsla at 7 1/2 a few years ago and I didn’t realise he was so ill. Not through eating anything but an un diagnosed condition. I really feel your pain. I was supposed to take him for a check up but delayed as I had workman in and by the time I took him it was too late. He never came home. I am sending heart felt hugs to you and your family. She knew she was loved dearly and will be with you in your hearts forever.

    • We lost our 4 year old only a month ago to an undiagnosed kidney failure .. she was seen by vets several times shortly before she passed and none of them picked it up. No one knew.
      You can’t feel guilty… xx

  12. My deepest sympathies to you, your family and the lovely Ruby! Such tragic circumstances in order to provide a well written article. I would never have known this so thank you so much for sharing your story.

  13. So sorry to hear of your loss of your beloved Ruby I have never seen a warning about XYLITOL and the danger it is to some animals and had no idea it could be lethal to them. You did everything possible to save her. and she had been loved and cared for in her short life and her loss must be very hard for you, and I understand your grief and really feel for you and your family, but by posting your story of Ruby you will have saved other pets lives and other loving owners from distress and I am so grateful for that. With very best wishes to y0u and your family.

  14. It’s obvious how much you still love your sweet Ruby. I know Ruby is running in the fields of heaven with Jesus and she is healed and whole, but My heart breaks for you. I am praying for you.

  15. It’s poisonous for people, too. It shouldn’t even exist. So sorry about your beautiful dog. The manufacturers change the name from time to time to fool us.

  16. What about the chocolate in your brownies? Sounds disasterous and my heart breaks for this beautiful pup. No one deserves such a painful exit. RIP young one x

    • I was thinking the same thing… the chocolate AND xylitol (on top of 36 hours waiting for medical treatment) probably played equal parts in this poor dogs decline. RIP precious Ruby ❤.

    • From experience with my dog eating chocolate, an entire egg carton of chocolate covered peanut butter (peanut butter eggs), it takes massive amounts of chocolate to become deadly toxic to a dog. My dog was ill for sure, but no need to take to a vet. She was vomitting, pooping liquid, etc….scarey and complete discomfort, yup, but not toxic with amount.

      This doesn’t not mean my heart doesn’t ache by loss of Ruby! I have experience with this too, fortunately my kid (Dog, Floyd, Golden Retriever) survived. I am fighting for awareness and this deadly toxic ingredient!!!

  17. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. My prayers go out to you and your family. I want to thank you though for sharing Ruby’s story and educating all fur baby lovers about this. R.I.P. Ruby.

  18. I cant begin to magine how you must feel. i would like however to pass on my sincere condolences fir the loss of your beloved best friend. Please dont blame yourself, you didnt know this was going to happen. You are so brave in the midst of your terrible grief, thinking of others and warning them of the dangers xylitol. X

  19. I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. Have done a pray talk with our Creator for your baby girl. Where there is ” Love ” for a wonderful creature such as our dogs, which the Creator has gifted to man, then there is ” No ” place for gilt. The universe knows what ” Lives ” within your heart. Sympathy, compassion, all tempered with your utmost devotion for your beautiful Ruby leaves no doubt as to what intentions illuminate your soul. Never forget that, exactly like us, your Ruby girl makes the same transition to the other side. Most importantly we are only separated by a short period of time, and the space of one dimension. AS with all of my loving Goldens who have had to go home, just ask your pure Ruby to come for you when your time is at hand. This is her opportunity to take you for a ” Walk ” to your real home. Bless you, your family, and all who hold Ruby in their hearts.

  20. It is devastating and heartbreaking to know that the owner would have been responsible for a pet’s death. It hurts me even to look at these pictures. We are going to stop giving our dog any questionable treats, going forward. i am sharing this on social media and I urge everyone else to do that. Some people, myself included, can become complacent. Poor baby. R.I.P., Ruby.

  21. Thinking of you and your family. Thank you for sharing. My dog is always stealing food… thank you for bringing awareness to this issue. Rest In Peace sweet Ruby.

  22. Im so sorry for your loss. I know exactly what you must be feeling…I lost my 2 year old yorkie-poo teacup puppy-Biggie, a little over two years ago now and it has been a mystery as to why until now. You’ve listed in exact order what happened to my girl, $10,000 dollars and three different vets (and locations) couldn’t figure it out. Its been tough to fully accept because I was never given a reason why.. I can’t thank you enough for being able to find the strength at such a sensitive time to write and warn others about the dangers of Xylitol. So grateful to have found this. RIP to Ruby and all of the loves lost through this horrible toxin. </3

  23. First, I am truly sorry for your loss.Thank you for being so loving to share.You may be averting tragedy on a global scale! I would have never thought to check for that ingredient when my service dog Beauty suddenly died in February 2017.I fed her an egg and some other things the day before she died.She was + 17 yrs old everyone just said she was old.Now I wonder? I have a new lab pup 7 months old and i give her peanut butter to conceal medicine.I just checked the peanut butter .It is ok!But I will check all ingredients always! AGAIN Thank you for sharing your pain to help save others.

  24. So very sorry for your very sad loss. It is kind of you to share your sad story with so many others. Who would he known!! Again, so very sorry.

  25. So sorry for you. I can truly imagine how sad and angry this has made you feel. Thank you so much of letting us all know. No more fallen biscuits for my pup!!

  26. So sorry to hear such a sad story. I have just lost my beautiful dog 2 weeks ago so I totally understand the loss & the sadness it brings. I did know about Xylitol & always buy peanut butter that doesn’t contain it (as it was a fav treat for both my dogs) but this article has really made me think about all the other foods that could potentially contain it. Thank you for sharing your story I am sure it will help to warn others of this lethal ingredient.

  27. I am so so sorry I think any dog owner knows how hard it is to lose them, they are just as much a part of the family then anyone. I know this won’t make it better but it wasn’t your fault you didn’t know Again I’m so sorry for the loss of your baby ❤️

  28. I am so very sorry for the loss of your precious Ruby 🙁
    What a tragedy! But God Bless you for having the strength and courage to share such a sad story with the rest of us in the hopes of saving other animals and families from the same grief that you are going through now. It takes a special kind of person to do such an unselfish act like this. Of course you were innocent of knowing that something like that could harm your dog….and so that’s just awful and my heart breaks for you. But what you’re doing is such a great thing because it will spread worldwide eventually and save so many animals and maybe make some amazing change.
    Thank you so much for sharing what you went through with us so that now we know what to do and not to do and we can share with others.

    On a sidenote, I don’t know if you like to watch movies or not but if you’ve never watched it you should try and watch the movie “A Dogs Purpose”….

    All my best,
    Susan

  29. so sorry thanks for the info you will save lots of lives now i wasnt aware of this i used to let my dog lick the yoghurts not any more

  30. This is so tragic! I have read about the dangers of Xylitol as well as other ‘toxins’ that our pets can easily be exposed to. Putting it in peanut butter is especially scary since so many use that product to pill their pets.

    My condolences in the loss of your beauty. I can only imagine the pain. God bless.

  31. Truly awful! I recently started using ERYTHRITOL in place of sugar in some instances for myself. I must research it also for potential harmfulness. Praying for Ruby’s owners for their loss. Peace and Grace.

  32. Another sidenote; Chocolate can also kill dogs and cats because of another ingredient of the chocolate! …you might want to google “can chocolate kill dogs’, also cats….just
    another thought and a definate NO_NO for dogs …I never knew that either, my dogs love chocolate!!! …until mine got very sick after eating a brownie also…! fortunately for me he didn’t die….

  33. So sorry. I had my last Great Dane, Atticus euthanised in September, at the age of 9 years and 8 months, as he could no longer stand up or eat, but when I got him as a 2 year old, yoghurt was one of the extra foods recommended by the breeder, probably to boost calcium in a fast-growing giant breed of dog. I know about chocolate already. Xylitol is unknown to me. Thankyou.

  34. That is so so sad. RIP little dog. The article says “How would you know if a restaurant has used Xzylotol in their take away, when you let your pooch have the left overs”Who the hell lets their dog or cat eat takeaway leftovers?? That is so wrong. Apart from this danger, leftovers are bad for a dog’s health, fat wise.

  35. oh she was so pretty! we had two vizslas and they’re great dogs. my deepest condolences to you. Hold onto your love filled memories!

  36. It can also be in some liquid medications so if you have a dog on a medication like liquid gabapentin make sure you check to make sure it doesn’t contain it.

  37. Cain sugar is all natural and healthy. Healthy if taken in moderation just like all foods. People need to quit saying that these “alternatives” are “healthy”!!!!!

  38. I am sorry for your loss. I almost experienced the same fate with my little chihuahua.
    5 years ago my 15 year old chihuahua ate 16 pieces of pure xylitol candies. Luckily I had remembered reading something about sugar free gum and started to frantically call poison control hotlines. They did not help much because they could not see her and did not know exactly what she ate. However, I knew my dog of 15 years was not acting like herself. She was kind of weaving and unsteady as she walked. I was in law school at the time and had a study session to attend. About 30 minutes in to the session I had a strange feeling that I better take my chi to the vet. By the time I got home she definitely looked odd.
    It’s difficult to describe how a dog looks when they have ingested this very toxic substance. I took her tiny body to the vet, actually the only vet that would even try to save her, because the extraordinarily high amount consumed the first 3 vets I called said it would be best to euthanize her. BUT, I was NOT going to put my baby down. I had to fight. She was a fighter and I was not about to give up. Once we got to the emergency vet the doctor took her from me and immediately administered a constant dose of a sugar like substance to keep her sugar levels up. Her levels were at almost 0 when we walked in so things looked grim. I stayed until 3:00am and came back the next day. To my surprise she was happy to see me and was wagging her tail. Day after day I came back hoping she would eventually recover. The vet said she would probably have liver damage if she lived and would not live too much longer because of the damage that had been done. Well, she is 19 today and spicy as ever. At 3 lbs she is a fighter and i am lucky to have briefly read about how sugar free could poison dogs. I feel horrible about Ruby and unfortunately all the blogs I have posted on never reached Ruby’s mom and dad. Breaks my heart and the pain is unbearable.
    One thing I did that may have helped was fed her honey and high fructose corn syrup every few minutes. Hoping this would fix the issue. Because xylitol is dangerous because it drops their sugar levels to 0 which starts to shut down their organs be by one. Maybe it helped maybe not but if it happens to you it’s definitely worth doing on the way to the vet.

  39. My heart feels your pain ,losing your best friend is so so hurting, as I lost my little boy Houston,13 1/2 yrs in July and I still cry, I want to thank you for sharing the information on these sweeteners that are deadly to our dogs,you have a good heart even though it is breaking, God bless you I think you and Ruby ,were both blessed to have each other. I know Ruby ,will be waiting for you at the rainbow bridge with kisses, God bless you

  40. My gorgeous staffy had a xylitol accident recently. Despite me being very stringent with its usage and storage, and all family members knowing the dangers of xylitol, he managed to gulp down my son’s lemon tart (containing 20g xylitol) when his back was turned for a second!

    My family’s knowledge and quick thinking saved him. Within 20 minutes of ingestion, he was at the emergency vet, and they quickly emptied his stomach contents. He was in overnight and then sent home with medication. We were so lucky to have identified this quickly, as he suffered no ill effects.

  41. I’m sorry you had this terrible experience….Guess what!!! Xylitol isn’t THAT great for humans either!! (but ..don’t worry..we non-experts would be the LAST to know)

  42. Thank you so much for going public with your story. I had no idea. Who knows how many others you have saved with your post.
    Thanks also for posting photos. Your V is beautiful.

  43. I’m so sorry for missing your Ruby, it’s just so heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing your story so we can all become aware of xylitol being lethal for dogs and how it can be found in unsuspecting food, etc.

  44. So very sorry for your loss. My heart breaks for you. My childhood dog was named Ruby. We currently have a 2 year old vizsla(Copper) and if anything ever happened to her, we would be devastated. They supply unconditional love constantly. ❤️❤️ Thank you for your educational article.

  45. I lost my 6 year old Vizsla just over a year ago. They are a wonderful breed, so loving and sensitive. I saw her advertised on Craigslist and it seemed she was calling to me “Save me.” I brought her home and discovered she been cruelly abused and neglected. It took me 18 months to teach her she had permission to go through a doorway. She had to be put down after months of tackling a huge bleeding cancer on her skull and renal failure. I will always miss her and would take in another Vizsla if I could. I am so sorry for your loss and in tears now. Love

  46. I came home one day to find that my dog had eaten an entire pack of sugarless gum, including most if the wrappers and foil. I freaked out…. Fortunately I was able to determine from the residual debris the brand of gum and, much to my relief, it was a brand made with sorbitol, not xylitol. Despite being nearly identical on a molecular level, that one tiny difference in chemistry quite literally makes the difference between life and death for dogs. Point being if you are a dog owner, there are safe options that you can keep in your home and not ever need to worry about your dog consuming.

  47. I have a Vizsla (Leia) and I am so sorry to read about Ruby. Life goes on but is never the same and the fact that this sweetener is a killer is so awful. Thank you for having the courage to share your loss.

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