If your dog insists on chewing, give him dog toys or dog biscuits. Give him your homework if you have to. Just keep him away from chewing gum.

Last month in Savannah, Buddy the Chihuahua learned the hard way the hazards of sugar-free gum. Like grapes and chocolate, it can be deadly for dogs.

Fortunately, Buddy, who stole some gum from Kathy Alderman’s pocketbook, is getting the medical care he needed to survive — $12,000 in medical care.

It turns out that the gum he ate contained xylitol, a sugar substitute that is toxic to dogs. It can disturb their blood sugar levels, sometimes causing liver and kidney failure. Symptoms can include lethargy, vomiting, loss of appetite and diarrhea.

Unfortunately, even the most careful dog owners can easily overlook the threat.

In Buddy’s case, xylitol was not listed as an ingredient on the package of gum.

It was, however, listed on the manufacturer’s website.

Xylitol, a natural substance from birch tree bark, is being used in a growing number of sugar-free products.

This isn’t Buddy’s first crisis. Ms. Alderman adopted him after he was mistreated and dumped to fend for himself.

So even if it took six dialysis treatments and a blood transfusion to save him, she did it. He is now being treated for internal ulcers and is fed through a tube until his appetite returns.

Ms. Alderman learned an expensive lesson about xylitol, and she hopes Buddy’s ordeal will educate other dog owners.

She is also hoping for some help with his medical bills. Information is at www.gofundme.com/buddyneedshelp.

Buddy’s lesson for pet owners? When your dog chews up your $350 designer shoes, give him something that you want him to chew on instead.

And count your blessings. At least they don’t contain xylitol.