Family warns of food ingredient’s potential danger to dogs

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Xylitol is commonly found in foods like sugar-free gum and sugar-free mints, but is potentially deadly to dogs. Xylitol is commonly found in foods like sugar-free gum and sugar-free mints, but is potentially deadly to dogs.
VALLEY STREAM -

A Floral Park family wants to spread the word about a common food ingredient that's potentially deadly to dogs.

Kona is 15-year-old Melissa Desiderio's therapy dog, helping the teen through a series of brain surgeries. The 2-year-old dog's life was almost cut short after Kona ate sugar-free chewing gum.

Kona was found unconscious early Monday morning, suffering from a seizure. The dog was brought to Central Veterinary Associates in Valley Stream.

Sugar-free gum contains a chemical called xylitol, which can be toxic to dogs. The vet says Kona ate around 50 pieces of gum.

The artificial sweetener caused liver failure and low blood sugar in Kona.

MORE: Extended interviews on Kona and xylitol

Eddie Desiderio says Kona’s condition was “extremely scary.”

“Extremely distressing, there was no life,” he says. “Tongue out the side of the mouth, drooling incessantly and sweating.”

Dr. John Charos says the chemical can be even more deadly for small dogs, and that in some cases just one piece is enough to kill.

“It's extremely dangerous, and unfortunately there's not a lot out there to the public about how dangerous it really is,” says Charos.

There is a GoFundMe page to help pay for Kona's medical bills. She's doing OK now, but she has racked up thousands of dollars in vet bills.

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