ASHLAND CITY, Tenn. (CBS Local) — A family in the Nashville area is warning pet owners about the dangers of an artificial sweetener after their 3-year-old dog, Canon, died unexpectedly.

The husky mix seemed healthy until Saturday night, when he suddenly stopped eating and started drinking a lot of water.

“Then he started vomiting the water, and so that kind of was the red flag that made us decide to take him to the hospital,” Canon’s owner, Christy Figlio, told WZTV. “They gave us some IV fluids, sent us home with a bunch of antibiotics, and told us if he got worse take him on to Nashville’s Pet ER.”

Shortly after he got home, Canon dropped to the floor and started shaking. He was taken to the emergency vet, who said Canon’s liver was failing because of an artificial sweetener, xylitol.

“She said, ‘You know, I don’t know if he’s been into any kind of peanut butter, any kind of sugar-free gum.’ And I looked at home, and we have Mentos gum, and that was the No. 1 ingredient,” Figlio said.

Xylitol is a type of no-calorie sweetener extracted from plants, primarily found in sugar-free gum. It has become more popular as a sugar substitute in baked goods and candy, especially brands touting less sugar.

The artificial sweetener is sold in bags for baking, and is fine for humans, but in dogs the substance can cause brain damage, seizures and liver damage.

“I could just tell. I knew we weren’t gonna be bringing him home, and I lost my dad a year ago, unexpectedly, and this is a close second,” Figlio said.