‘Tis the season to be very careful of chocolate, particularly baking chocolate, as we learned the hard way on Wednesday. Poor Jake. When I woke up I discovered to my horror that he had counter surfed (he hasn’t done this for years) and eaten an entire four-ounce Ghirardelli 100 percent cacao baking bar. NOT GOOD! We’re not talking a single chocolate chip cookie here.

He was trembling a little. I didn’t know if it was from the toxicity or because he was off his warm bed — he’s a Lab, but he has a crappy coat and gets cold easily — but I wasn’t taking any chances. I took him to Sunset Veterinary Hospital, five blocks away, where he was seen by a wonderful vet named Lani Wieman.

She and her team took Jake in the back and gave him several big syringes of activated charcoal and enough subcutaneous fluids to make him look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I opted not to do the option of forced vomiting and IV fluids right away because he really does not do well in the kennel area of vets, and if it wasn’t totally necessary, I wanted to avoid it.

We went for a walk, he ate some grass, and we went home, where I was to watch him for the rest of the day and night. He drank about six bowls of water when we walked in the door and then proceeded to copiously vomit very black goo all over the hardwood floor.

Alas, no sign of chocolate. So off we went to the vet’s again, because we needed to get that activated charcoal down into his gut, where it could do battle with the chocolate, which had a head start. They gave him an anti-vomiting shot, waited a bit, and then, at my request, kept him in the exam room this time for the charcoal administration. I figured it would help him be less nervous if I was there. He’s Mr Mellow but gets shaky at the vet’s.

This pic is after they bibbed him up before the two giant syringes of charcoal so he wouldn’t turn into a black Lab in the messy process. He handled it like a trouper, and even the vet and lovely tech fell in love with the gentle semi-giant and his very expressive eyes.

I spent the night in a downstairs bedroom/office with him to make sure he was OK overnight. He snored the night away, and was out the doggy door chasing a critter away from the back yard at 4 a.m. Whew! He seems to be his old self, and this will never happen again.

Jake wasn’t drinking fluids for a few hours while he was resting and after, and since the toxin can reabsorb through the bladder, it’s essential. So I got out some turkey broth I made the other day, put some turkey in it, and he drank it all up and ate the goodies at the bottom. Moohaha, my plan worked, and out he went to the backyard to take care of business.

Be careful out there this season — and all year round! Despite the discomfort at the vet’s, Jake and I got lucky, but it doesn’t always work this way.

The moral of this story: Even if your dog is not a counter surfer, please be careful with where you keep chocolate, especially as we come into the Season of Chocolate. I was going to use the baker’s chocolate for something special, but it could have ended up killing my best boy. No more of that stuff in this household! OK, I’m going to go hug up on Jake now.

Read more from Maria and more on chocolate:

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