A lovable Great Dane called Harry was rushed into emergency care – after he wolfed down a stash of Easter chocolate.

Cheeky Harry was treated at our pet emergency clinic in Gateshead after he munched his way through a 500g block of Galaxy, a giant Cadbury’s Ultimate Easter egg and a tube of Smarties, plus most of the wrappers.

At Vets Now, we received more than 140 calls an hour from worried pet owners during Easter, which is more than double the number of a normal weekend.

Image of Harry the great dane puppy for Vets Now article on dog easter chocolate
Cheeky Harry scoffed a whole feast of chocolate treats

Harry’s owner Michael Burch had placed the chocolate out of harm’s way on his living room table when he and his wife Aoife went to see a friend.

With Harry left behind a firmly closed kitchen door, Michael quite rightly thought nothing could go wrong.

But the enterprising dog somehow managed to open the door by prodding it with his nose and jabbing at it with his front paws

He then made a beeline for the living room where he was able to jump up, swat the chocolate down to the floor and set about having a feast.

When Michael and Aoife came back an hour or so later, the chocolate had gone, what was left of the wrappers were strewn around the house – and a perky-looking Harry was looking very pleased with himself.

Harry waited until his owner Michael had gone out to steal the chocolate

Photographer Michael, from Belfast, said: “We realised pretty quickly what had happened. Harry actually seemed fine in himself but we didn’t want to take any chances.

“We googled chocolate poisoning and dogs, took one read of what came up and then took Harry straight to Vets Now.”

Harry was treated at Vets Now’s out-of-hours clinic in Belfast, which is open for pet emergencies throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Chocolate contains several ingredients that are bad for dogs, including fat, sugar and caffeine.

But the most toxic ingredient is theobromine, which comes from cocoa. Dogs aren’t able to break down, or metabolise, theobromine like humans and it mainly affects their guts, heart, central nervous system and kidneys.

In cases like Harry’s, it can also cause potentially fatal heart arrhythmia.

Image of Harry the great dane puppy for Vets Now article on dog easter chocolate
Harry was rushed to Vets Now for treatment

There is no antidote to theobromine. In most cases, vets will make dogs vomit. They may also wash out the stomach and feed activated charcoal which will absorb any theobromine left in the intestine.

Other common treatments include intravenous fluids (a drip), medication to control heart rate, blood pressure and seizure activity.

Emergency vet Laura Playforth, professional standards director at Vets Now, said: “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.

“As long as it’s treated early and there’s been no kidney damage the prognosis for chocolate toxicity is generally good.

“Michael did absolutely the right thing bringing him in so quickly. Time is of the essence in these cases.”

Image of Harry the great dane puppy for Vets Now article on dog easter chocolate
Thanks to his owner's quick thinking and the Vets Now team, Harry was soon back to normal

Only hours after receiving treatment, Harry was well enough to go home and he was quickly back to his normal mischief-maker self.

Owners who suspect their pet has eaten a dangerous amount of chocolate should not wait for signs or symptoms to appear before they contact a vet. Instead, they should telephone their vet immediately or, out of hours, their nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic.

Vets Now is open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays such as Easter, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur. All of Vets Now’s clinics and hospitals have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.