Bereaved beagle owner warns of dangers of sugar alternative xylitol

The bereaved owner of a beagle is speaking out to warn other pet owners of the dangers of a potent sugar substitute lethal to dogs.

Christine Manga's much loved pet Rosie died suddenly last month after eating left-over sponge cake containing xylitol.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener in many products - it is safe for humans but is extremely toxic to dogs.

RSPCA Australia warns on its website that xylitol should not be given to dogs. When they digest even just tiny amounts, it can cause dangerously low blood sugar and liver failure.

"It's 100 times more poisonous for dogs than chocolate . . . three sticks of chewing gum with xylitol in it can kill a dog," Manga said.

She knows this now, but had no idea of its dangers before Rosie's death.


"Now I just want to make people aware about the dangers of xylitol to dogs," Manga said.

"I'm not telling people not to use this product, but I think people need to make an educated choice as to whether they have this product in their house if they have dogs.

"Dogs are dogs and they will eat what they find ... I would never have had it in my house if I'd known."

Eight-year-old Rosie fell ill after eating a wedge of leftover peach sponge Manga had baked for her husband Stephen.

Stephen has type 2 diabetes and Manga had used xylitol as a sugar replacement.

"Rosie was a bit of a jumper, for a beagle she could jump quite high - she ate it off the bench while we were outside," Manga said.

"We had no idea it was toxic and I just thought, for goodness sake Rosie, you've eaten the peach sponge, and didn't think anymore of it."

But the next day, she began to worry. Rosie had vomited violently over night so was rushed to a vet.

Manga said it was vet Paul Eason's first case of treating a dog with xylitol poisoning and his team did all it could to save Rosie.

"We did everything we could, she had plasma, blood transfusions.

"But by Tuesday Rosie was hyperglycaemic, was bleeding internally and her liver had shut down."

She died on the Tuesday, three days after eating the sponge cake.

"This is the sixth dog that we've lost over the years, and this loss has been the hardest," Manga said, holding back the tears.

"But by speaking about this, it's a tribute to Rosie, she deserves to have her little story told."

RSPCA Australia warns on its website that the "low-carbohydrate sugar substitute is used as a sweetener in products such as chewing gum, some toothpastes and baked goods".

"While safe for human consumption, its is differently metabolised by dogs.

After xylitol ingestion, dogs can become acutely hypoglycaemic (develop low blood sugar) leading to seizures and death, if not treated immediately.

"In some dogs, xylitol consumption causes liver failure and clotting problems, also carrying a poor prognosis."