Vets say surge in popularity of toy breeds means more dogs are at risk from chocolate poisoning

A chocolate feast left a little dog needing urgent veterinary treatment after she scoffed an entire box of After Eight mints.

Owner Scott Bevin had to rush four-year-old Penny to our pet emergency hospital in Manchester as the toxic overload could have been fatal.

But, thankfully, his swift action and the skill of our vets and vet nurses saved the day for the lovable Lhasa Apso.

Image of Penny the Lhasa Apso for Vets Now article on dog ate after eight chocolates
Penny needed urgent treatment after scoffing an entire box of After Eights

“She is prone to nosing about and sticking her head in shopping bags,” said Scott, 31, from Altrincham.

“But we usually catch her, so there’s never been any damage done.

“We are always very careful but, as it happens, there was quite a bit of chocolate in the house at the time. My daughter had some on a table in her room and the door was lying open.

“Penny got in, jumped up on the bed, got her nose into one of the boxes of After Eights and when it fell open on the floor, she obviously thought she’d hit the jackpot.

“She sat there eating them until we worked out where she was and found her. By that time she’d had the entire box, which I think was 300g or 400g.”

Chocolate can be a lethal toxic hazard for dogs as it contains both theobromine and caffeine, which they struggle to break down. It can lead to a racing heartbeat, seizures and even coma.

Smaller dogs, such as increasingly popular French bulldogs, dachshunds, pugs and miniature schnauzers, are most at risk due to their size and weight.

Although Penny, who weighs just 6.5kg, initially seemed fine, Scott immediately realised the potential danger and put a call into his local vet and, as it was closed, he was referred to Vets Now in Manchester.

The state-of-the-art facility is one of a nationwide network of hospitals that are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for pet emergencies.

Image of a box of After Eight chocolates for Vets Now article on dog ate box of After Eights
Penny's owner wants to warn others of the dangers of chocolate after she ate the box of After Eights

Even before Scott got Penny inside, she was sick on the pavement as she got out of the car.

“Because the mints are dark chocolate-coated, we calculated that she was over the toxic dose for a dog of her weight,” said vet David Owen.

“She was nervous and trembly and her heart was racing at 240 beats per minute. We gave her an injection to make her sick and she quickly brought up a very large amount of minty chocolate.

“Penny’s case highlights the dangers of leaving chocolate within reach of dogs, even for a moment. Even small amounts can be dangerous and smaller dogs, such as the increasingly popular toy breeds, are most at risk.”

Penny was put on medication to bring her heart rate down and an anxious Scott got the news he’d been hoping for to tell him the treatment was going well.

“They said they’d have to keep her in overnight to monitor her heart rate and withdraw the medication slowly,” said Scott. “But after worrying, it was just a relief to hear she was on the mend.

“It was actually quite funny when I went to get her the next morning as she walked right past as if she blamed me for everything she’d gone through!”

Penny was back to her old self soon after and Scott is keen to get the word out about the perils of chocolate.

“Don’t have it anywhere they can get to – we now have it in high cupboards – and get help fast if they do eat any.”