An Ontario family was devastated when their beloved Great Dane Gracie died after eating four packages of chewing gum—and are warning others to be careful with products containing an artificial sweetener that may have played a role in the dog’s death

Jennifer Watt, from Schomberg, told CTV News Toronto that Gracie was a wonderful dog for her three children.

“She was a great family pet. She would play with her brother and let the kids climb all over her" said Watt.

Watt says she had purchased 12 packs of chewing gum and had wrapped as part of a gift. Gracie found the present hidden under a bed, ripped it open and then ate four packages of Pur chewing gum, which is sweetened with xylitol, an artificial sweetener.

“Within a few minutes she was able to get from upstairs to downstairs and then she collapsed and went unconscious."

Gracie weighed about 150 pounds and Watt says her husband scooped her up in his arms and took her to the local veterinary clinic, which tried to stabilize her.

The chewing gum contained xylitol, a sugar substitute that is toxic to dogs and cats. The family later took Gracie to an animal hospital and despite more than $7,000 worth of medical tests and treatment; she died of liver failure 48 hours later.

“So a couple of packs of gum cost us with the fees of the veterinarian and replacing the dog close to $10,000” said Watt.

This isn’t the first time a beloved pet became ill after consuming a product with the artificial sweetener.

CTV News Toronto spoke with Arnie Charlton, of Windsor, last month when his cockapoo Lexi almost died. The dog quickly snatched a single piece of gum that was dropped on the floor by his granddaughter. It also contained the artificial sweetener xylitol.

The dog became sick and also had to be rushed for veterinary care.

“Maybe we can put some pressure on these manufactures to put warnings on this gum for pet owners," Charlton said.

Xylitol is also being used as sweetener in baked goods, toothpaste and peanut butter.

“Something like peanut butter seems like an innocent way to give medication, but if it's a peanut butter that contains this artificial sweetener that could be fatal, so read labels before you give your pet any substance,” said Melanie Couleter with the Windsor Essex County Humane Society.

Watt has two other Great Danes now. Her dog Gracie died a few years ago, but she says her family never went public with what happened.

Watt says after seeing more of these artificial sweeteners on the market containing xylitol she decided to contact CTV News Toronto to tell her story.

“I'm just trying to prevent other families having to go through what we went through," Watt said.