A Tennessee woman is warning dog owners about the risk of gum around their canine companions.
Christy Figlio told Inside Edition she noticed something was wrong with her 3-year-old dog, Canon, when he suddenly stopped eating.
“He seemed to get more and more lethargic, almost like he was drunk,” she said.
She and her husband took Canon to the vet, where he was given antibiotics for what was believed to be a liver infection.
Despite the medication, the pup's condition worsened.
"He got to the point where he collapsed to the ground and he started shaking, almost convulsing," she recalled. “The vets basically had him on life support.”
When Canon's health continued to deteriorate, she made the heartbreaking decision to put him down.
Now, Figlio believes their dog became a victim of xylitol poisoning.
Xylitol is a type of artificial sweetener primarily found in sugar-free gum, which Canon injested after getting into a pack of Mentos gum. Even a small amount can be toxic for dogs.
Veterinarian Brett Levitzke says families should be extra careful as Halloween approaches.
"Dogs are very curious, they tend to like the same things that we do," he told Inside Edition. "If they see us eating it, they are going to want to try it themselves. They love the taste of things like chocolate and gum, so it is good to keep those items up in a cabinet, locked, and away from where they can get it."
If a dog ingests xylitol, it can cause seizures within as little as 10 minutes. In higher dosages, it can cause acute liver damage.
Figlio hopes her story will teach other pet owners that gum and dogs don't mix.
“We really wanted everybody to know so they don't have to go through this because it was horrible,” she said. “Always check the label.”
If you suspect your dog has consumed xylitol, experts recommend calling a vet immediately and avoid inducing vomiting unless directed to do so.