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Health & Education

It is very important to educate ourselves of the latest news on Norwich Terrier's health information so we can best care for our delightful pooches. 

Preventing Another Tragedy

Norwich Terriers  May 2010

Beetle Kelly, 10 months old, was, according to his owner, Elizabeth, “the most magical puppy imaginable.”  And now he is a memory, an achingly sad place in his family’s heart.  It all happened in a moment.  “We’d been out walking and had just returned when I turned around and saw him with the pack of gum.  I took 1/2 a piece out of his mouth but didn’t know how much he’d actually swallowed.  Beetle looked guilty and something rang in my brain that what he’d eaten, sugarless gum, was toxic.”

Elizabeth immediately called the vet, packed up her four-year-old son and arrived at the clinic within 25 minutes.  But it took another whole hour somehow for the emetic to work.  That time lapse proved to be the final coda in the young Norwich’s life.  A few hours later, Beetle succumbed to xylitol poisoning. 

Xylitol is a common sugar substitute (also known as sugar alcohol) used in a wide variety of items these days.  It seems to be everywhere: in sugarless gum, toothpaste, pharmaceuticals, vitamins, candy, baked goods, mints and even puddings.   While harmless to humans it can be lethal to dogs.  Once ingested there is a window of just 15 to 30 minutes before it reaches the blood stream.  As little as oneand  a half pieces of sugarless gum can be fatal to a small dog like a Norwich Terrier.

According to Eric K. Dunayer VMD, Senior Toxicologist at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, the toxin works by causing a rapid release of insulin causing a dangerous drop in blood sugar.  The resulting hypoglycemia causes weakness, lethargy, loss of coordination, collapse and seizures. There is a strong link with xylitol and liver failure as well.  Dr. Dunayer states that “cases are gong up each year.  In 2002 the Poison Control Center received two calls.  In 2009 there were 2600 calls.   And this no doubt represents a fraction of the incidents.”

If you strongly suspect or know your dog has ingested xylitol, time is of the essence.  Call your vet or call the ASPCA Poison Control Center: 1 888 426-4435.  They may advise you to induce vomiting.  Regardless, the blood glucose levels must be monitored and stabilized.  Dr. Dunayer adds that “most who die are not treated right away.”

What you can do:  read labels.  Keep xylitol out of reach and better yet, out of your house, purse, car etc.   Help get the word out.  Many vets and their staffs are not aware of this burgeoning threat.   Clip this column, download information and send to your puppy owners, breed clubs, training centers and other places dog owners congregate.  Thanks to Elizabeth Kelly for her kind permission to use this story and Beetle’s photo.  If Beetle’s death can be used to prevent another such terrible loss, he will not have died in vain.



Written by Leandra Little

Weehawken,, NJ