Vets report a rise in chocolate-related emergency calls over recent weeks

A dog owner is warning about the dangers of chocolate in the home after her pet beagle wolfed down an entire box of chocolates given to her as a gift.

Our vets see a massive rise in chocolate poisoning cases during the festive season — with admissions in some clinics going up by more than 300%.

There’s already been a surge in calls to our pet emergency teams as a result of dogs eating chocolate treats hanging from Christmas trees.

Lesley Daggers is hoping her experience might serve as a warning to other dog owners to be on their guard as Christmas approaches.

Image of Daggers the dog Vets Now article on dog has eaten chocolate
Daggers the beagle

She’d been pleased to receive a box of Terry’s All Gold, but hadn’t even got round to having one when dog Jill used a chair to jump on to a sideboard and scoff the lot.

When the beagle started being sick Lesley realised the situation was serious and rushed her to Vets Now pet emergency service in Preston.

It quickly became clear that Jill had eaten a dangerous amount of theobromine, which is the chemical in chocolate that’s toxic to dogs.

After being checked over by vets, the distressed dog was given an injection to induce more vomiting and out came all the remaining chocolates.

She was then administered with activated charcoal, which absorbs poison, and given plenty of fluids in a bid to ensure the theobromine was fully out of her system.

“Jill frightened us when she started being sick and I was really worried at the vets as she was still heaving badly,” said Lesley, adding that her mischievous Beagle was like “a toddler who was into everything so you need eyes in the back of your head.”

“Thankfully, after 24 hours or so, she was back to her normal self.”

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The beagle has been known to move chairs around the dining room so she can get onto the table and snaffle food — unlike her brother, Jack, who is more laid back when it comes to scavenging.

The assorted milk chocolates had been left on a tall sideboard, but in the few moments she’d been left unattended, Jill used a chair to climb up and get them.

Lesley said: “I was on my way home from work when my daughter, Jessica, phoned to say Jill had eaten all the chocolates. She’d only gone upstairs for a moment and the chocolates were quite high up.

“They were a present from my parents and I hadn’t even had any. I think my husband, Carl, and Jessica, who’s 27, had maybe had one or two, but Jill had the rest — all 380g of them. She looked very sheepish when I got home, but we soon realised how serious it was.”

Lesley added: “If we get any chocolates now they either go in the fridge or high up in a cupboard out of harm’s way.”

Vet Diana Koziol, who treated Jill at Vets Now in Preston, said emergency vets see a surge in chocolate poisoning cases around Christmas time.

She added: “Dogs who have eaten a toxic amount of chocolate usually start showing symptoms between four and 24 hours later. These can include vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, rapid breathing and seizures.

“Unfortunately, we see a lot of cases like this and owners can never be too careful, especially those with greedy dogs who will do all they can to eat them. Our advice is to keep chocolate treats well away from your dog.

“This includes those wrapped up as presents or chocolate baubles that hang from Christmas trees.”

The Vets Now clinic in Preston — where Jill received treatment — was recently rated as “outstanding” in the delivery of emergency and critical care by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

It’s one of a nationwide network of Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.

All of Vets Now’s out-of-hours clinics and 24/7 hospitals have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.