Fort Collins, Colo. -- A woman who lost her dog recently has a warning for pet owners about the potentially deadly effects of Xylitol. It's a popular sugar-substitute used in sugar-free gum and commonly used for baking.
But for dogs and cats, Xylitol can be a toxic poison.
It's a heart-breaking lesson one woman in Fort Collins learned the hard way. On Easter Sunday, Lila Neilon's 10-year-old Chihuahua, Pip, died after eating part of an apple pie that was baked with Xylitol.
Veterinarian Dr. Karen Hilling says while the sweetener is safe for humans to ingest, it can lead to pancreas and liver failure and even cause seizures if eaten by animals.
Hilling says by the time Pip arrived at Four Seasons Veterinary Specialists in Loveland, he was already suffering pancreas and liver failure. Doctors spent more than 24 hours trying to save Pip's life. The dog passed away the following day.
"We tried everything we could. But I think it was just too much because he was so tiny and had such a large dose of Xylitol," Hilling said.
Neilon said she had no idea the deadly effects the sugar substitute could have on animals. She is now learning to cope with the loss of her little shadow.
"I just remember the last thing - Pip just looked at me like he just loved me so much, and I'll always have that thought and picture in my mind," she said.
Doctors say even a single stick of sugar-free gum can have harmful side-effects. If ingested-- pets should be taken to the vet immediately. Dogs and cats should also avoid grapes, raisins, garlic, rhubarb and chocolate.