28/09/2017 13:59 SAST | Updated 29/09/2017 11:18 SAST

Sainsbury's To Pay For Vet Bills After Chocolate Promotion Stunt Goes Horribly Wrong

‘It’s vital to keep chocolate safely away from prying paws.’

Sainsbury’s has been left with its tail between its legs after posting chocolates through customers’ letterboxes, resulting in multiple dogs falling ill.

The retailer sent an unsolicited free gift of assorted Green & Black’s chocolate bars to hundreds of customers. But in some cases the present was intercepted by hungry canines.

The ordeal resulted in five complaints, with dog owners saying the chocolate had made their pups sick - in one case, a dog owner claimed her eight-month-old puppy had to have its stomach pumped.

Sainsbury’s has since apologised for the error and revealed it is paying for the vet bills of those affected.

Dan Dugdale
Dan Dugdale came home to find his dogs had treated themselves to the chocolate delivery.

It’s no secret that chocolate is poisonous to dogs. The tasty treat contains a chemical called theobromine which can be highly toxic to pets. Dark chocolate, in particular, poses the biggest risk.

“A small bar of dark chocolate could contain enough theobromine to fatally poison a small dog,” PDSA vet, Rebecca Ashman, told HuffPost UK.

“It’s vital to keep chocolate safely away from prying paws.”

Dan Dugdale, from Wetherby, West Yorkshire, came home to discover his two Miniature Dachshunds had devoured the assorted box of chocolate bars, which were addressed to a previous occupant.

The dogs were incredibly “hyper” and, concerned for their health, Dan took them straight to the vets. 

“Luckily after a couple of trips to the vets we found out everything was OK,” he told HuffPost UK. “We were really lucky that our dogs are tough little sausages.” 

Sainsbury’s has since been in touch with Dan, offering to cover his vet bill. 

A spokesperson said: “We’re extremely sorry for the distress this has caused. We know chocolate is unsafe for pets to eat and that’s why we had measures in place to safeguard against pet owners receiving this promotion. We are urgently investigating what went wrong.”

Explaining this further to HuffPost UK they said they had actually excluded pet owners from the mailing list - they based this information on what customers had previously bought. However some managed to slip through.

The retailer confirmed that five dogs were thought to have been affected by the blunder so far. In light of the incident, the retailer said it will pay for the vet bills of those affected. 

Rebecca Ashman, a PDSA vet, issued advice for people who are worried their dogs may be affected.

“Signs your pet may have eaten chocolate can include excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea, a tender tummy and restlessness,” she said.

“These 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 and even death.

“If you think your dog may have eaten chocolate, it’s important to contact your vet straight away for advice.”

She also urged pet owners to be mindful of other food items which can be highly toxic to pets including sultanas, raisins, onions, peanuts and coffee beans.