A dog owner is warning others after his pet was poisoned by eating chewing gum.
Tony Reeves was left with a vet bill for more than £1,100 after his 10-month-old rough collie, Bailey, swallowed an entire packet.
The multipack contained a natural sugar substitute called xylitol, which can cause a dog’s blood sugar levels to plummet, leading to seizures, liver failure and, if left untreated, death.
Mr Reeves and his wife, Carol, who do not know where the gum came from, took Bailey to Newnham Court Veterinary Hospital in Maidstone after noticing he was eating the gum in their back garden on Sunday, April 2.
The 62-year-old, of Rosemary Avenue, Halfway, said: “It all happened so quickly.
“Carol was out in the garden with Bailey and our two Shetland sheepdogs, when she noticed Bailey had something in his mouth.
“On closer inspection, she saw it was a piece of chewing gum.
“Luckily, Carol had recently seen a post on Facebook about a lady in America who lost her dog after he ate chewing gum.
“That’s why she knew we needed to get him to hospital.
“The sweetener is really poisonous to dogs and we had to go on worst case scenario – we didn’t know how much he’d eaten.”
Because the couple acted so quickly, Bailey did not show signs of symptoms including shaking and lethargy, but Tony said Bailey was put on a drip to flush his system as soon as he arrived at the hospital. He was also given an injection to make him vomit.
After 24 hours he made a full recovery but had to go back for blood tests for three days to make sure it was completely out of his system.
Tony said the total bill for Bailey’s care came to £1,108.19. Fortunately, he will be reimbursed by his insurance company.
The father-of-three is now advising other dog owners to make sure gum is well out of reach to their dog.
“There must be hundreds of dog owners that are unaware of how dangerous chewing gum can be to dogs.
“It’s on the pavements and people drop packets of it – it’s scary when you think about it.
“Hopefully by sharing our story, it can help raise more awareness.”
A spokesman for Wellpets Animal Hospital in Minster said xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs and can cause hypoglycaemia, which involves a decrease in the blood sugar level. If left untreated, it could be fatal.
"There must be hundreds of dog owners that are unaware of how dangerous chewing gum can be to dogs" - Tony Reeves
The spokesman added: “Even a single piece of chewing gum in a small dog can potentially be toxic.
“It can affect different organs quite quickly after it is digested.
“Owners should seek medical assistance right away if they think their dog has swallowed any goods containing xylitol including sugar-free muffins, biscuits and some peanut butters.”
Meanwhile, anyone with a dog has been advised to make sure chocolates are kept away from their pets this Easter.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) said last year two in every three vets treated at least one case of dogs being poisoned by eating the sweet treats at Easter.
More than 1,600 vets took part in the BVA survey and the highest number who said they had seen chocolate poisoning victims were in the south of England.
Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical in cocoa beans, which is harmful to dogs and other animals.