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Life-saving surgery for dog who ate Santa decorations

Sweet-toothed Lily, a 14-year-old Parsons Russell Terrier from Gillingham in Kent, needed life-saving treatment after polishing off at least four chocolate Santa decorations from a Christmas tree.

PDSA vets gave her emergency treatment which saved her life, meaning she was home in time to enjoy festive celebrations with her family.

The charity is highlighting Lily’s story to warn pet owners to be extra vigilant this Christmas as many festive treats, including chocolate, can be toxic to pets.

“I’d hung chocolate tree decorations high on the tree, as we do every year, but a few days before Christmas I walked into the sitting room to find decorations and tinsel all over the floor. Lily must have climbed the sofa and pulled everything off to get to the chocolate. The foil wrappers were gone, so she must have eaten these too.

“I didn’t realise how dangerous it was, but thankfully I’d heard that chocolate can be really poisonous to dogs, so I called PDSA straight away."

– Jenny Pomroy, Lily's owner
Lily with her owner Jenny Credit: PDSA

Jenny rushed Lily to the Gillingham PDSA Pet Hospital where she was given a drug to safely make her sick and then medication to prevent her body from absorbing any remaining toxins.

“It was a good job that Lily was brought into the hospital. Chocolate toxicity is a real concern and her owners were really sensible to bring her straight down to us. The amount of chocolate she ate was dangerous for such a small dog and it could have been fatal if she’d been left untreated. The wrappers were an additional worry, as there’s a chance they could have caused a dangerous gut blockage.

“Lily’s blood tests revealed she wasn’t out of the woods yet. She needed to be placed on a drip to help support her kidneys and we monitored her closely for the next 48 hours.” “Lily was incredibly lucky she didn’t suffer fatal kidney damage, and thankfully she was able to go home in time for Christmas.”

– Soo Ming Teoh, PDSA vet
Lily ate several chocolate decorations Credit: PDSA

Jenny is encouraging other pet owners to keep chocolate well out of reach of their pet’s paws this Christmas.

Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which is toxic to most animals including dogs and cats. Signs a pet may have eaten chocolate can include vomiting, diarrhoea, drinking excessively, shaking and restlessness. At higher doses, signs can even progress to an abnormal heart rhythm, raised body temperature, rapid breathing and seizures.

Without rapid treatment, chocolate poisoning can also cause kidney failure and in severe cases, death. Pet owners are urged to contact the vet as soon as you notice your pet’s eaten something they shouldn’t rather than waiting for symptoms, as by the time you see these signs the toxin has already passed into the body.

Lily could have suffered fatal kidney damage Credit: PDSA

“It’s important that owners make sure chocolate and other toxic Christmas foods are safe from curious paws. With the festive season here, many of us will have lots of treats, sweets and chocolates in the house. But while Christmas is a time for indulgence, remember that some foods that are safe for us can be harmful to our pets. Foods including mince pies, chocolate, onions, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, sage-and-onion stuffing and Christmas cake can all be harmful.”

“Instead of giving pets extra food, treat them with some quality time by taking your dog for more walks or giving your cat extra playtime.”

– Soo Ming Teoh, PDSA vet

If you think your pet might have eaten something they shouldn’t, call your vet immediately as they might need urgent treatment, depending on the amount they have eaten.

To help avoid a festive fiasco this Christmas, PDSA has put together a FREE pet survival guide, available to download here: www.pdsa.org.uk/christmasguide