Vets believe 11-week-old Lutzow died of xylitol poisoning. Photo courtesy Judy Steinbrenner
CARMICHAEL, CA - An 11-week-old German shepherd named Lutzow was happy and playful Monday afternoon, but died in his owner's arms the next day.
SLIDESHOW: Lutzow liked to play
The two veterinarians who treated the puppy blame xylitol, a common sweetener, for Lutzow's sudden and painful death.
"Xylitol killed my puppy," said a heartbroken Judy Steinbrenner, who contacted News10 to make other pet owners aware of the danger posed by the naturally-occurring sugar substitute.
Xylitol is found in gum, mints, toothpaste and sugar substitute, among other products. More about xylitol
Dr. Laura Hart, a veterinarian with Reagor Pet Hospital, said even a small dose of xylitol can dangerously reduce a dog's blood sugar, and a larger amount can lead to liver failure.
Steinbrenner said she was aware of the danger and kept her products containing the sweetener out of reach of her pets. She believes Lutzow consumed the fatal dose of xylitol when he got into some picnic litter during a walk at a nearby park.
Julie Turner, a marathon runner, said her 2-year-old golden retriever named Kona had a close call involving xylitol when he chewed through several packages of a powdered energy drink she left on the kitchen counter.
"They pumped his stomach and treated him with activated charcoal," Turner said. She, too, was aware that xylitol can be deadly for dogs, but was unaware the powdered drink contained the sweetener.
Steinbrenner said she and her husband, Mike, paid hundreds of dollars to have Lutzow vaccinated against parvo, distemper and other puppy viruses. She never dreamed they would lose him to a common sugar substitute.
"He was protected from worms and fleas, and then killed by a stick of chewing gum," she said.
by George Warren, GWarren@news10.net