The dog who ate Christmas

Just two hours before I was to taste sweet, sweet freedom and hit the road to visit family and friends in Montana, Miss Cheeto decided to taste some sweet, sweet chocolate. I believe it was a suicide attempt.

She ate this:

And this:

And a bunch of this:

And, for the record, when I say she ate these:

I mean that she ate everything. The paper bag. The foil wrappers of the individual chocolates. All of it. Even the wrapping paper. (Well, *most* of the wrapping paper. It's how we knew she got into the chocolate.)

We found this out shortly after she did the deed, so I assumed we could rush to the vet, get her stomach pumped, and all would be well.

I was wrong.

First we rushed to the vet, who said that it was good we got her in before the seizures started. Seizures?!

Then we went home while they knocked her out and pumped her stomach. They called to tell us there was a lot of stuff in her belly (no duh!) and that we'd maybe be able to bring her home the next day.

Later, worry set in, so I had the boyfriend call and check on her. I asked if we could go visit her.

When we got to the vet's office, they brought out a limp Cheeto and laid her on the floor. Her face was scrunched up in pain and she was breathing very, very hard. I watched her little doggy cheeks puff in and out with each breath. (This was definitely not the same as panting.) Then I cried. She struggled to try and sit up to greet us, but failed. About ten minutes later she managed to gather enough strength to put her head on my foot. More crying.

We went home, worried through the night, then called the vet in the morning.

Apparently she had seizures throughout the night and went to the doggy ICU to keep her organs from failing. She also had a doggy EKG after she developed a heart murmur.

We went back to the vet to visit. She looked haggard and I was told she hadn't bitten anyone.

The biting thing is actually significant. She HATES strangers. HATES them. She bites and she bites regularly (we're working on that, she had a traumatic little life before us). We saw the staff pick her up, bathe her, etc. without so much as a "Grrrrrr." This made me worry.

She stayed another night and we went to pick her up in the morning.

The vet suggested that we go to a doggy surgery center for an endoscopy, just to make sure there wasn't anything else stuck in her tummy (the x-rays were inconclusive on that front). The boyfriend and I struggled with the decision. It was probably going to cost a lot, but we do have pet health insurance. It was also going to be a big strain her little system, and considering she was in danger of her organs failing, I was concerned that it would be too much for her to be put under again.

In the end, we decided it was better for her to have the endoscopy, as they assured us that they could pull out any stray wrappers during the procedure. The boyfriend and I drove her to the doggy surgery center and dropped her off. They said that they'd call as soon as they knew anything.

We went to the mall to kill some time, and I managed to freak out at my poor boyfriend. There wasn't any good reason, I was just stressed as all hell. You're not in a good place if you're bursting into tears at Nordstroms.

A few hours later, we got a call from the surgery center. Cheeto's stomach was completely blocked with an immovable mass of wrappers, cherries and who knows what else. Surgery was happening, and it was happening now.

More crying.

Another night of waiting and we got the news that she could come home. We were also told that she was clear for traveling with us to Montana, as long as we were careful with her.

Her little tum-tum looked like this:

Finally, four days after our intended departure date, we hit the road with doggy and lots of medications in tow. (One for pain, one for her thyroid, one for her heart, and an antibiotic.)

I can't tell you how stressed out I was. I mean, I can try, but there's no way that words can express exactly how frantic I was.

Work has been very, very busy. Both dayjob work, 2nd job work, and my own side projects have managed to take up nearly every second of my free time. Los Angeles has felt oppressive, as I hit the point of despising my daily commute (freaking traffic). I wanted nothing more than to start my vacation. Then, two hours to freedom, I got hit with four days of thinking my baby puppy doggy was dying.

It was horrible. Just horrible.

And who knew chocolate was *that* toxic. I knew it was a no-no for dogs and cats, but I didn't realize that 13oz. of mixed truffles and chocolate covered cherries could kill a 22 pound dog. Had we not rushed her to the vet immediately (the office is just two blocks from our house) Cheeto would be dead.

Four days and $4,500* later, the boyfriend and I started our winter vacation. More on that soon.

*Here's hoping that VPI pet insurance delivers. Anything would be helpful.

For future reference:

1) White chocolate is by far the safest chocolate a dog can eat. Generally, they shouldn't even be phased by it.
2) Milk chocolate is also relatively mild. It's worth calling the vet about, as it can be dangerous in large quantities (which depends on the size of the dog).
3) Dark chocolate = death. It doesn't take too much (also depending on the size of the dog) to kill them.
4) Baker's chocolate = ultra death.

The boyfriend and I have resolved to keep chocolate out of our house entirely.

A few resources:

Dogs and Chocolate
Chocolate Toxicity and Dogs

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