Vets issue warning over festive treats

A cheeky puppy caused Christmas Day chaos when he munched through a 15-inch supersize Toblerone he stole from under the tree.

Cunning Sandy struck just when his owners Lisa and Andrew Sinclair had finally got to bed after a long Christmas Eve spent wrapping presents.

Chocolate is highly toxic for dogs and can lead to poisoning and potentially fatal heart arrhythmia – which meant Lisa and Sandy had to leave their home near Perth to visit our Dundee pet emergency clinic at the worst possible time of the year.

Spaniel lurcher cross Sandy looking at the camera
Sandy gave his owners a scare when he tucked in to a present of Christmas Eve ©Vets Now

The drama began just before 1am when Lisa was woken back up by a loud and unusual rustling noise coming from the sitting room.

She went downstairs and discovered “spaniel on stilts” Sandy – who’s a cross between an Irish setter and a springer – helping himself to the giant chocolate bar.

On his way to finding it, 18-month-old Sandy had shredded a bath bomb as well, leaving a scene of chaos around the tree.

The chocolate was a present from Lisa’s son to her daughter and first Sandy had to get through the wrapping paper.

Then he set about the cardboard packaging, ripping that to shreds too, before tucking into nearly all 750 grams of the chocolate.

He even had time, as Lisa discovered, to stash the last bit of Toblerone under a blanket to eat later.

A milk chocolate Toblerone bar partially wrapped in foil
"Spaniel on stilts" Sandy scoffed a Toblerone bar

Lisa said: “I’d literally just got off to sleep when I heard the commotion and thought ‘something’s not right here!’

“At that point we’d only had Sandy for about six months – we rehomed him from another family – and he was sleeping on the sofa at night because that’s what he was used to at his old house.

“He’s not normally one for looking for food he’s not allowed, but I think he must just have smelled the chocolate and found it impossible to resist.

“He seemed fine, and was looking pretty pleased with himself, but because we’ve had dogs before we knew that if they do get hold of something like that it can be very dangerous.

“The two problems we had were the amount that he’d eaten and the fact it was Christmas; we wondered how we could get any help.

“The more we Googled it the more we realised how serious it could be for Sandy, even though there seemed nothing actually wrong with him.

“Luckily for us, Vets Now in Dundee were open and when we rang and explained what had happened, they started doing the calculations about how much risk he was facing. They needed to know his body weight plus the weight of the chocolate.

“They did the maths and said to bring him in straight away. So that was me at half past one in the morning on Christmas Day in the car with a dog who’d decided to start his Christmas early.”

Dog Sandy and owner Lisa in the snow
Sandy must have been unable to resist the sweet smell coming from under the Christmas tree ©Vets Now

Our team gave Sandy medicine to induce nausea to clear his stomach of as much of the Toblerone as possible.

Then he was well enough to head home – with bottles of liquid charcoal for Lisa to give him every four hours to continue cleansing his tummy.

Lisa said: “Of all the ways you might think of spending Christmas, a trip to the emergency vets is definitely not one of them!

“But we couldn’t have just done nothing and hoped for the best. Sandy is part of our family and we couldn’t risk any harm to him.

“Needless to say, he now sleeps in a basket upstairs and the door to the living room will definitely be shut this Christmas Eve!”

Sandy the dog wearing a tartan bandana with his head tilted towards the camera
After treatment, Sandy was deemed well enough to go back home on Christmas Day ©Vets Now

Our emergency vets see a surge in chocolate poisoning cases around Christmas time.

Emergency vet Dave Hollinshead, who is part of the Video Vets Now team, 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.

“We really hope Lisa and her family have a slightly quieter Christmas this time around – and please do seek help immediately if your dog does get hold of either chocolate, currants or raisins this year.”

All of Vets Now’s premises always have a vet and vet nurse on site.

We 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 like Sandy’s, our experienced vets are available to discuss any worries or concerns you might have.

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