At just 3 years old, a husky-mix named Canon had a lot of life left to live.
But that abruptly changed when the pup ate a piece of sugar-free chewing gum this past weekend, leading to his untimely death, his owner said.
“I’ve cried a lot about it,” Canon’s owner, Christy Figlio, of Nashville, Tennessee, told Fox News.
On Saturday, Figlio and her husband returned home to their two pooches Canon and Conrad. Figlio said she immediately noticed Canon -- an 85-pound dog with a big appetite -- wasn’t acting like himself when he had very little interest in his dinner that evening.
The next morning, Canon was “lethargic and not very playful,” she said. His condition worsened into the early afternoon, prompting Figlio to take him to a nearby emergency vet clinic. She said he was unable to stand.
Veterinarians checked his blood, discovering his white blood cell count was “through the roof” and his liver enzymes were abnormally high, she said.
Initially, Canon was diagnosed with a liver infection. Veterinarians prescribed him antibiotics before sending him home.
But just hours later, the couple was forced to return “when he started convulsing,” Figlio said.
"I've cried a lot about it."
By 4 a.m. the next day, Figlio and her husband were faced with the difficult decision of euthanizing Canon. The couple was told Canon’s liver was “shutting down” and his blood was not clotting correctly -- both signs of xylitol poisoning.
Xylitol -- a sugar alcohol often used as a substitute for sugar -- is an ingredient commonly found in sugar-free chewing gums and mints, toothpaste and store-bought baked goods, among other items, according to PetMD. While typically harmless to humans, the ingredient can be lethal to dogs if ingested, as the "ingestion of xylitol or xylitol-containing products causes a rapid release of the hormone insulin, causing a sudden decrease in the dog's blood glucose," PetMD reported.
Signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs include weakness, vomiting, seizures, trembling, diarrhea and acute collapse, among other symptoms, according to Pet Health Network.
Figlio said she isn’t sure how Canon got ahold of the gum, explaining that the veterinarian told her Canon could have easily picked up a piece of chewed gum on the street during a walk or playtime.
“I had never heard of xylitol poisoning before,” Figlio said. “I was always worried about chocolate -- but that’s nothing compared to this.”
Moving forward, the Tennessee woman hopes this story will serve as a lesson for other pet parents.
While she’s still grieving the pup’s death -- as is Conrad, the couple’s other dog -- Figlio said she is “so happy so many people have seen [the story].”
“At least we feel like we’re helping,” she said.