Three-month-old Boris saved by emergency vets following plunge into borrowed jacuzzi

A puppy almost died after jumping into a hot tub his owners were keeping for a friend.

It took just seconds for 13-week-old English bulldog Boris to suffer an extreme reaction to the chlorine and he was only saved by our highly-skilled team of vets and vet nurses battling through the night.

Now Boris’s owner Sarah Cash, from Durham, is warning other pet owners of the potentially lethal hazards.

The warning is especially relevant given the astonishing boom in popularity of hot tubs sparked by lockdown.

Sales have leapt by over 1000% in recent months as families spent more time at home and used refunds from cancelled holidays for extravagant garden improvements.

Image of bulldog puppy Boris for Vets Now article on dog in hot tub
Three-month-old Boris needed emergency treatment after jumping into a hot tub ©Vets Now

Sarah and husband Kyall hadn’t planned on having another dog after they lost their previous pet, a Labrador, but they fell for Boris who had been bred by a friend.

His placid nature made him an ideal companion for four-year-old daughter Eve, but disaster struck on a recent Friday night.

“It wasn’t even our hot tub,” said Sarah, 34, who runs a window and door company with Kyall.

“It belongs to a friend who said we could have it while his garden is being done up. This was only the second time we’d used it and were just setting it up, with the inflatable insert under the lid still in place.

“Kyall was fixing a washer and I had popped into the kitchen to check on tea when I heard Eve say Boris was in the tub.

“There was no splash, he hadn’t made any noise and it had only been about 10 seconds. It was at the same level as the decking, so he’d literally just stepped in and gone under.”

Image of bulldog puppy Boris with his owners' daughter Eve for Vets Now article on dog fell in hot tub
Boris and Eve ©Vets Now

When Boris was pulled out, he was struggling to breathe and, with their own vet closed on the Friday evening, Sarah called Vets Now and Kyall rushed him straight to our Gateshead clinic.

It’s one of a nationwide network of clinics and hospitals open seven days a week for out-of-hours pet emergencies.

“His breathing was so bad I didn’t think he was going to make it,” said Sarah. “We were devastated and felt so guilty. We’d never leave our daughter alone near water and we’d turned our backs and this had happened to our puppy.”

Boris was in a bad way when he arrived at the clinic.

Image of bulldog puppy Boris with owners Kyall and Eve for Vets Now article on dog in hot tub
Boris with Kyall and Eve ©Vets Now

“While he wasn’t unconscious, he was really struggling to breathe. He’d inhaled chlorinated water into his lungs and we had to give him oxygen through a special catheter in his nose to help stablise him,” said senior vet nurse Ashley Wemple, who was part of the team who saved Boris’s life.

“The chlorine had caused inflammation on his lungs as well, so we gave him medication and continued with the oxygen and, overnight, his temperature and colour very slowly began to improve.

“The fact he’s a bulldog puppy means he struggles with breathing at the best of times. This made him a very challenging patient. He was still wheezy the following morning and by no means out of the woods.

“Thankfully, by Saturday lunchtime, his prognosis was guarded but good. In reality, he only survived thanks to the fast reactions of his owners and the skill and professionalism of the vets and vet nurses involved in his treatment.”

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Image of Boris the bulldog puppy for Vets Now article on dog in hot tub
While Boris his now recovered from his frightening ordeal, his owner wants to warn others to be alert to the dangers of hot tubs when dogs are around ©Vets Now

Boris needed one-to-one treatment throughout the weekend and he wasn’t well enough to be discharged until the Sunday.

“I had a bit of a meltdown on the Saturday and it was just brilliant to get him back at last,” said Sarah.

“He’s fine now but it was such a scare. I can’t stress enough how careful people need to be with their pets around hot tubs and how dangerous the chlorine can be. You need to have eyes in the back of your head.

“Vets Now were brilliant, they’re like another emergency service.”