For a dog named Hershey, sugarless gum is not so sweet


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Steve Clow, an editor with The Times sports section, offers this cautionary tale about an adventuresome dachshund.

Two years ago our rescue dachshund (name: Hershey) got into some chocolate. Or, more precisely, some chocolate got into him. Lots of chocolate. It’s a long story, involving seemingly inaccessible shrink-wrapped Advent calendars. But with the help of the fine professionals at the Thousand Oaks Pet Emergency Clinic, Hershey, above, came through the experience with no lasting damage.


Now, try as we might to keep the lovable little guy safe and healthy, we’re sometimes no match for his tireless nostrils. Recently, in his cook’s tour of forbidden treats, he rooted out a pack of sugarless gum on our teenager’s nightstand. Hershey inhaled 15 mini-sticks of Trident. Wrapping included.

We caught him practically in the act, and some quick online research confirmed our fears: Xylitol, which makes sugar-free gum sweet to us, can be toxic for dogs. We raced him to the emergency hospital, where his old friend, Dr. Lidia Ladno, was on duty. She remembered him from his last misadventure, offered a gentle quip about his shifting taste in sweets, and once again worked her veterinary wonders.

Today, Hershey is fine. And we’ve almost recovered. While these incidents made us question whether ‘Dachshunds for Dummies’ might be a little too advanced for us, we found in telling the story that we aren’t alone. Most people knew about the perils of chocolate. And grapes. But sugarless gum? Not really.

So we’re telling Hershey to think of all this as a public service. So far, he hasn’t objected.

-- Steve Clow