Yesterday, Chris got a free 1lb box of 36 dark & milk chocolate truffles. Boy, was he happy 🙂 He was so happy that he opened up the box and promptly ate 5 of them. Then, he was called away from the chocolate by me, who had forgotten to get milk at the store and needed him to pick some up from the corner market. So, Chris puts the box of chocolates on the study floor, lid securely on top. No big deal, since our dog, Bear, has been trained not to eat anything on the ground till he is released.
When I say that Bear has been trained, I mean really trained. This is something that we’ve worked with him on for the 3.5 years that we’ve had him. He’s so good about it that we’ve put down the remainders of a bowl of cereal, forgotten to release him, and come home after work to find that it’s still there. And that’s just one example of how good he is about this.
While Chris was at the store, I was on the 1st floor talking to my sister on the phone. Chris comes home with the milk, then starts up the steps to the study. He hears Bear tearing around the 2nd floor and thinks to himself, “Wow, he’s sure having a lot of fun with his doggy toy!” He walks into the study and right away notices that the lid of the chocolate box is partially off. He opens the box and sees that the remainder (31 truffles) is gone. And his first thought? “Sheesh – Jenny ate all of my chocolate!” Oh, please!
Then, he hears the dog darting around the hallway. He turns and sees Bear, and what is he doing? Bear is tossing one of the truffles in the air, pouncing on it, batting it around the floor, then chewing on it. Auggggh!!!!
Crisis time. I get off the phone with my sister and start doing some research. Bear had eaten ~12 oz of chocolate, and he weighs a little less than 19lbs. So, that definitely put him in the toxic range. We called the 24 hour vet center, who told us to try to induce vomiting. Being the handy dandy nurse that I am, I of course have exam gloves at home. So, I put on a pair of gloves, open his mouth, and tickle the back of his throat. Nothing. The dog who throws up if he drinks too much water or if you scare him will not throw up after ingesting toxic levels of chocolate and when his throat is being stimulated. Unbelievable.
So, off the to the vet. At 10pm. We get there and of course there’s a line. Who knew the vet’s office would be so busy at 10 o’clock? Since timing is of the essence when it comes to ingested toxins, they took us back within a few moments and started doing the work-up on Bear. Chris & I were left to wait in a tiny exam room, and we passed the time by cursing our dumb dog.
**Side Story: While we’re waiting, Chris asks me for the number of the dentist (at this point, it’s like 11pm). I’m like, “What? The dentist? Now?!” Yep, he wanted the dentist’s number. So, I pull out my cell phone and read it off to him, not paying too much attention to what he’s doing. I’m looking at all of the drug posters for animals when I hear Chris ask “Is this dentist?” Huh?! I turn to look at him, see he’s on the phone, and quickly ask, “What the heck are you doing?” He looks up at me in surprise, and I’m staring at him with this incredulous look on my face. I tell him to hang up, hang up! He hangs up, and I ask him what he was doing. Apparently, he thought that he would just call the dentist, leave a voicemail, and ask them to call in the morning to make an appointment. Oh boy. I tell him that he must’ve gotten their answering service, and he’s like, “Yeah…. probably. Um, what was the number again?” Turns out, he’d gotten the number wrong, called some random lady at 11 o’clock at night, and asked her if she was the dentist. I start laughing in a slap-happy sort of way, thinking about how ridiculous he must’ve sounded to this poor woman.**
Back to the main story. They ended up sticking a tube down Bear’s throat, made him throw up, and gave him some free charcoal (not free as in “cost-free”, of course!), and gave us an update. The vet told us that his throw-up looked like “brownie batter” (OK, that is so gross) and that there was a lot of it. Her recommendation? Another push of free charcoal, followed by pushing IV fluids, lab work, EKG monitoring, and overnight observation. The more stuff she recommended, the more light-headed I became – dollar bill signs started to float in a hazy fog around my eyes.
Chris decides to take the plunge and ask how much all of this recommended treatment would cost us. “Best guess, around $800,” is the vet’s reply. Gasp. Now I’m the one who needs the EKG! “What’s the cost, as of right now?” is Chris’ 2nd question. “A little over $200.” Well, there goes a chunk of my Christmas! Needless to say, we decided to take him home and cut our losses. Now, if Bear had still had toxic levels of chocolate in him, or if he was showing visible signs & symptoms, then that would’ve been different. However, he’d thrown up most of it, and he was prancing around the exam room like nothing was wrong. Dumb dog!
We got home a little after midnight, and Bear promptly vomits charcoal goo on the cream carpet. Before I can even get that cleaned up, he vomits some more in a different location. Needless to say, Bear’s bed was moved to the tiled bathroom floor that night! He’s doing fine now, even if he looks ridiculous. One of his front legs is completely shaved, and he’s got black charcoal-stained fur on his face, ha ha! But at least he’s doing fine 🙂
You might say that we went overboard, and I can’t tell you how many people have told me that chocolate being poisonous to dogs is just an old wives’ tale. But, when your vet tells you that he has a toxic amount in him, and your dog is whimpering and crying, well, it’s hard to ignore that, you know? Chris ended the night by saying that his truffles ended up being the most expensive “free” chocolate he’d ever had, and I agree 🙂