Choc horror after Bailey’s binge

20 December 2017

PDSA vets warn pet owners about the dangers of chocolate poisoning this Christmas

A sweet-toothed Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Bailey had a very lucky escape this festive season after wolfing down a potentially lethal dose of chocolate. Thankfully, her owners were aware of the dangers and took urgent action, meaning PDSA vets were able to provide life-saving treatment.

The warning comes as new PDSA research reveals one-in-ten pet owners face an emergency trip to the vets over the Christmas period*.

Bailey’s owner Angela (53) from Shard End, Birmingham, said: “I’d popped out to get Bailey some food but got back to find scraps of paper and foil all over the floor. She’d managed to get into a plastic bag and rip open the chocolate bar wrappers!”

Angela was horrified to find Bailey had polished off two huge bars of chocolate – over twice the lethal dose for dogs. But thankfully, Angela knew chocolate was poisonous for our four-legged friends and rushed Bailey straight to Aston PDSA Pet Hospital.

PDSA vets immediately gave Bailey medication to induce vomiting, alongside treatment to help reduce absorption of the deadly chemicals contained in chocolate.

PDSA Vet, Hannah Gritti, said: “Chocolate is incredibly toxic for dogs – especially the amount Bailey had eaten. We knew time was of the essence, so we needed to act fast to make sure she would pull through.

“Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine which, although harmless to people, is poisonous to dogs. Luckily, Angela knew Bailey had eaten chocolate and acted quickly, but others aren’t so lucky. It’s important to be vigilant this Christmas and keep all chocolate, including cakes and advent calendars, completely out of reach. Remember, gifts under the tree could contain chocolate too, so keep wrapped presents out of reach from curious paws.”

Cases of chocolate poisoning are consistently one of the most common enquiries to the Veterinary Poisons Information Services (VPIS), and the number of chocolate poisoning cases during the festive season is around 20%** higher than any other time of year. PDSA is urging owners to be vigilant during the festive season.

Hannah adds: “Signs your pet may have eaten chocolate can include excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea, a tender tummy and restlessness. This can then progress to tremors, an abnormal heart rhythm, raised body temperature and rapid breathing. In severe cases, chocolate poisoning in dogs can cause fits, kidney failure and even death.”

Other festive foods, including onions, raisins, some nuts, sage-and-onion stuffing, mince pies and Christmas cake, can be harmful and should be kept out of paws’ reach. You can find out more at If you think your dog may have eaten something poisonous, it’s important to contact your vet straight away for advice.

A very relieved Angela wants to share Bailey’s story to highlight the dangers that chocolate can pose to beloved pets this Christmas.

Angela added: “I was terrified she wasn’t going to make it. She’s my little prima donna and rules the house, but she’s my world and I would be distraught if anything happened to her.

“I hope that Bailey’s story helps raise awareness of the life-saving work PDSA do – I’m incredibly grateful for all they have done. They are such an amazing bunch of people – I just don’t have the words to say how thankful I am.”


*All figures are from the Christmas Pets survey, conducted by YouGov on behalf of PDSA. Fieldwork was undertaken online between 22-23 November 2017. Total sample size was 2,082 UK adults. Figures of vet visits are for dog, cat and rabbit owners, with a sample size of 973. The Christmas period was defined as the beginning of December to the beginning of January.

**Statistics provided by Veterinary Poison Information Service

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