Dog-owner landed with £100 vet's bill urges people not to drop chewing gum on the streets
PUBLISHED: 15:09 22 April 2019 | UPDATED: 08:53 23 April 2019
A dog-lover landed with a £100 vet's bill after her beloved spaniel swallowed discarded chewing gum is appealing to people to think before they drop food waste on the streets.
Debbie Frost, who lives at Cromer with her 18-year-old daughter Isabel and their two Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Maddie and Maisie, was horrified when, during a shopping trip, six-year-old Maisie gulped down a large piece of pink gum.
Having recently seen a feature on the ITV show This Morning warning pet owners of the dangers of the sugar substitute xylitol, which can be fatal to dogs, Ms Frost - a full time carer to Isabel, who has autism - knew she needed to act quickly.
“Maisie just lurched and swallowed it before I could get it out of her mouth and, because I knew chewing gum contained xylitol, I phoned the vet immediately,” Ms Frost explained.
The food additive, which is also found in toothpaste, mouthwash, vitamin supplements and some brands of peanut butter, is safe for human consumption but, even in small amounts, can lead to seizures, liver damage, and even death, in dogs.
Maisie was taken by taxi to Miramar Veterinary Practice, at Sheringham, where she was given an injection to induce vomiting.
“As a single parent, to me, a £100 vet bill is huge and, to be honest, if Maisie had eaten that chewing gum and died, I can't imagine how I would have felt; the dogs mean everything to me and to Isabel,” Ms Frost said.
As a responsible dog owner, she said she felt frustrated by how much litter was thrown on the streets.
“I always pick up after my dogs and even carry wipes, so I really want to raise awareness as there are plenty of bins and I don't think people realise that food thrown on the pavement can be poisonous to dogs,” she added.
Adam Shuttleworth, who treated Maisie, said that while the most common toxicity cases Miramar vets saw were due to dogs eating chocolate, rat poison or their owner's medication, xylitol was of increasing concern.
“It is a very serious toxin with effects that can be slightly delayed,” he explained. “It causes an insulin spike leading to symptoms including lethargy and tremors and can lead to possible collapse, seizures and even acute necrosis of the liver.”
Praising Ms Frost for her quick-thinking actions, he added: “Debbie making that phone call and getting Maisie here quickly certainly helped, but the safest and most hygienic place for chewing gum is in the bin.”