Accidental spillage of hot cooking fat left puppy with agonising burns

Vets are warning owners to keep their dogs out of the kitchen on Christmas Day to avoid burns and scalds ruining the festivities.

It took just a split second for Lakeland terrier Fig to suffer horrific injuries when her owner accidentally spilled burning hot fat from a tray on her.

The six-month-old puppy needed emergency treatment at Vets Now in Ashford following the incident which left her yelping in agony.

Image of Fig the dog with another dog for Vets Now article on dog kitchen dangers
Six-month-old Fig was in the kitchen when her owner accidentally spilled hot cooking oil on her ©Vets Now

Dr Liron Levy-Hirsch, District Vet at Vets Now, said: “Our vets and vet nurses see a big increase in cases at Christmas and many of these involve accidents in and around the home.

“The kitchen is probably one of the most dangerous places in the house, especially when people are busy cooking, as there a lot of extra hazards and pet owners need to be careful.

“Our advice is to keep pets in another room when there is food around.”

Fig’s story is being highlighted by Vets Now to warn pet owners to be extra vigilant this Christmas as coronavirus restrictions and hospitality closures mean more people than ever are likely to cook at home.

“We’re used to being really careful around the house with our older dog Pie,” said Fig’s owner Sarah Pickett, who lives with her husband Hugh on a farm near Ashford, Kent.

“But puppies are like toddlers as you never know what they are going to do and something can happen in the blink of an eye.”

Image of Fig the dog's burn injury after being burnt by hot cooking oil for Vets Now article on dog burnt by hot oil
The accident left Fig with agonising injuries ©Vets Now

“Hugh and I were both in the kitchen while he was baking sausage rolls in the Aga and I was at the sink preparing dinner.

“Suddenly Fig started yelping and dashing round the kitchen and it was as if someone had stood on her tail.

“But it turned out that as Hugh had taken the tray of sausage rolls out, some of the hot fat had spilled off the tray just as she had got under his feet.

“I ran to pick her up and actually burned my hand on her as I did so.”

Sarah couldn’t see the extent of the burn on Fig’s side as she is so fluffy, but she scooped her up and put her under the cold tap.

As Fig didn’t seem to be in much discomfort after the initial shock, Sarah tried to look after her at home, applying antiseptic cream and keeping a watchful eye.

But things soon took a turn for the worst.

“She’s usually lovely and cuddly but became really lifeless and I could see that something was wrong and she just wasn’t happy,” said Sarah.

“The wound had started weeping a bit and I didn’t want to attempt cutting the fur away and making it worse.”

Image of Fig the Lakeland terrier lying on the floor for Vets Now article on dog kitchen hazards
Fig was treated overnight at Vets Now Ashford and was able to go home the next day ©Vets Now

With her own vets closed at the weekend, Sarah called Vets Now and rushed Fig straight to our Ashford clinic. It’s one of a nationwide chain of more than 60 hospitals and clinics open seven days a week for out-of-hours pet emergencies, including on bank holidays such as Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

“After assessing the situation, we provided pain relief then sedated Fig so we were able to clip away the fur on her side to get to the wound,” said vet nurse Claire Howell, who was on duty looking after Fig the night she was hospitalised.

“That allowed us to carefully remove the damaged tissue, flush and clean the fresh wound and wrap her in a body bandage.”

Fig was kept in overnight on a drip with pain relief as she recovered from the surgery. Sarah and Hugh were delighted to be able to collect her and take her home the following day.

“The vets and vet nurses were lovely and professional and they did a brilliant job,” said Sarah.

“We were just so happy to have her back. Our own vets changed the dressings three times and now, to let the air get to it, we’ve got her in cut-down baby-grows.

“Thankfully it’s healing really well.”

Image of Lakeland terrier Fig with another dog for Vets Now article on dog burnt by cooking fat
Thankfully Fig's burns are healing well ©Vets Now

Hot liquids are one of the most common causes of scalds to dogs and our emergency vets have drawn up an advice guide on what to do if a dog suffers burns or scalds.

Cold water or wet, cold and clean towels should be applied to the burnt area if the wound is fresh. If the skin is cold it can indicate that the skin is compromised and bacteria can easily get into the damaged area, so use clean and preferably sterile dressings.

If you do suspect a burn or scald, veterinary help should be sought immediately.

“It just goes to show that kitchen accidents can happen in a flash and you should always seek help if you’re worried,” added Sarah.

Vets Now also offer an online video consultation service to make professional veterinary advice more easily available.

While the service is not suitable for life-threatening emergencies, experienced vets are available to discuss any worries or concerns pet owners might have.

If a pet needs an in-person follow-up appointment at any vet practice, Vets Now will refund the online consultation fee, so owners never pay twice.