Winning the challenge: The touching story of a special dog with extraordinary will and energy.ThuHa

Tragedy struck a week ago when we lost our beloved Hungarian Vizsla, Ruby, at the young age of seven. Losing a cherished family dog is devastating on its own, but our grief is compounded by the realization that her life might have been saved if we had known about xylitol.

Ruby’s untimely demise was caused by ingesting xylitol, a popular sugar substitute that is considered safe for humans but lethal for dogs. Shockingly, a mere piece of chewing gum sweetened with xylitol (which is the case with most brands) is enough to be fatal for an 8-10kg dog. Unfortunately, most dog owners are unaware of this danger. Xylitol is commonly found in yogurts, peanut butter, takeaways, cakes, and numerous other foods where manufacturers opt for a healthier alternative to sugar.

Tragically, Ruby stole two of my homemade brownies, a scenario that had occurred in the past without any adverse effects. However, this time, I had unknowingly used xylitol in my baking. Little did I realize that immediate veterinary intervention was crucial, as time was of the essence and intensive, invasive treatment might have offered a glimmer of hope.

Regrettably, it wasn’t until 36 hours later, when Ruby vomited profusely and collapsed, that we rushed her to the vet. It was only upon her transfer to the remarkable Royal Veterinary College Hospital that they mentioned the word “xylitol.”

After an arduous eight-day battle in intensive care, Ruby tragically succumbed to the illness. Our hearts are shattered. How can any good come from losing a pet who was the very center of our family, cherished beyond measure? We are consumed by sadness and guilt.

Only fellow dog lovers can truly understand the depth of our grief. I implore you to avoid experiencing the anguish we are currently enduring. Educate yourself about xylitol. Be vigilant and examine what your dog may have picked up from the pavement. Could it be a discarded piece of chewing gum? Do you give your dog peanut butter as a treat? Take a closer look at the ingredients. Have they ever sampled leftovers from a delicious takeaway? Some high-quality restaurants now employ xylitol in their cooking. How would you know if you innocently place the container on the floor for your beloved pooch to enjoy?

If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to call the Animal PoisonLine at 01202 509000. And no, I was not aware of this invaluable service either. For a nominal fee of £30, they will assess the situation and provide you with proper advice on what to do and how urgently it needs to be addressed. It might just save your pet’s life. Reach out to the PoisonLine whenever any animal ingests something that raises concerns.

Let’s spread the word. We need all dog owners to be conscious of this “new” toxin. Those who discard gum must realize the peril they leave behind for man’s best friend. Vets should consider xylitol, alongside warfarin, as a possible cause of poisoning when dogs present with symptoms. Food manufacturers must label products containing xylitol as “dangerous for dogs” in clear and prominent ways.

The PoisonLine records hundreds of xylitol-related deaths each year, but they suspect the true number could be in the thousands. Please, don’t let your dog become another statistic.

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