AS Christmas approaches vet charity PDSA has issued a chocolate warning for all pet owners, after a 13-year-old dog decided Christmas would come early, tucking into an entire gift-wrapped selection box.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Max, was discovered by his stunned owners next to the Christmas tree, with scraps of wrapping paper and the remains of what was a gift-wrapped selection box.

Having had Max since he was a puppy, he had never shown interest in presents under the tree, or tried to get his paws on chocolate, so his family was in total shock to find he had ripped open a present from under the tree, and eaten not only all six packets of chocolate in the selection box, but some of the box itself and the wrapping paper!

Max’s loving owner, Stacey, said: “Max is the light of our lives, he’s definitely a real character, but after all these years we never imagined he’d open up a gift from under the tree! 

We know chocolate can be really bad for dogs, so I immediately searched online to find out the total grams, to see how bad it was. I then called the vets, who told me I needed to bring Max in straight away. 

Across its 48 Pet Hospitals, PDSA sees a 35 per cent increase in a medication used to treat poisonings around Christmas, which is likely linked to the abundance of dangerous food in the home such as chocolates and mince pies. 

PDSA Vet Nurse Shauna Walsh said: “The seriousness of chocolate poisoning depends on how much your pet has eaten, how big they are, and the cocoa content of the chocolate – the darker the chocolate the more toxic it is for your pet.”

Thankfully for Max, it didn’t take long for him to perk up again  after being treated with fluids, charcoal and medication to induce vomiting. 

He was soon able to head home to fully recover, and enjoy the rest of the festive season with his family.  

The most severe cases of chocolate poisoning in pets can lead to heart failure, coma and even death. 

Although this is rare this is why it’s really important to keep chocolate safely away from any curious pets. Especially during celebrations like Christmas when there’s likely more chocolate than usual in the house. 

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning usually appear within two to four hours, but can take up to 12 hours. In severe cases, toxicity can cause:

• Fast breathing or panting

• Shaking, trembling and tremors

• High temperature (fever)

• Seizures

• A fast heart rate

• High blood pressure

It’s also important to be aware of mild symptoms too:

• Hyperactivity

• Vomiting

• Diarrhoea

• Signs of abdominal discomfort/pain

If you think your pet could have ingested some chocolate, don’t wait for chocolate poisoning symptoms to appear, keep the packaging and call your vet immediately.

Thousands of people could suffer a devastating loss because they can’t afford their pets veterinary treatment, together this Christmas we can save pets' lives. 

For more information on how you can help PDSA keep people and pets together this visit: .