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Sweet yet toxic

Did you know that Starburst the sweetie is now available as a chewing gum?

When I was a kid, Opal Fruits were among my favourite sweets. The three of us used to have competitions to see who could keep one in our mouths the longest, but I was no good at all at sucking them slowly. I always had to chew, and never managed to win.

Nowadays they are called Starburst, and I love them still, especially on long car journeys.

But I gather there is a new version out called Starburst Chewing gum cubes and Starburst chewing gum fruity mixies. And sadly, the reason I have come across these is via the veterinary press, which keeps me informed of new developments in the profession.

It seems that some dogs have been unlucky enough to have stolen or been given these, and have found themselves very ill indeed.

These particular treats, a cross between a sweet and a chewing gum, have a very high concentration of xylitol. This is safe for people, but toxic to dogs.

Most chewing gums cause symptoms over a twelve hour period, giving dog owners a little time to react and get to a vet. But with Starburst chewing gum, the problems start within one to two hours.

The issue is with the xylitol causing the blood sugar levels of the pet to drop, ie a serious hypoglycaemia. This is like an overdose of insulin, causing weakness, collapse, fits, liver damage, and it can sometimes be fatal.

So if anyone in your family has developed a love of this treat, please be really sure that your pets don’t try it as well!

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