Hawick couple left heartbroken after dog ingests Christmas potpourri and dies

A couple have been left heartbroken after their beloved dog died within 24 hours of ingesting Christmas potpourri bought at Edinburgh’s Christmas Market.

By Liam Smillie
Thursday, 16th December 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th December 2021, 4:57 pm

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Kevin Douglas, a butcher in Morrisons, and his husband, hairdresser Kevin Sykes, bought festive potpourri - a mix of fragrant plants and fruits – and put it in a bowl beside their log burner.

Their 11-year-old Yorkshire Terrier Alfie showed no interest in the potpourri but on Monday evening the couple, from Hawick, discovered that the contents had been tipped onto the floor around the fire place.

Husbands Kevin and Kevin with their beloved dog Alfie who died

Alfie had chewed up all the lemons, limes, oranges, and apples in the bowl, but this was no cause for alarm as they presumed it would be of no harm to their dog.

At 7am on Tuesday morning Alfie began to be sick and was taken to Hawick vets, where he was given an injection to stop the sickness and pills to help settle his stomach.

Mr Sykes stayed off work all day and kept a close-eye on Alfie, but the dog’s condition soon worsened; he was sleeping most of the day and kept convulsing when he was awake.

The couple made the decision to take him back to the vets the following day but before they could, Alfie died lying at his owner’s side, before Mr Douglas returned home from work at 8pm.

“We bought the potpourri to give our home that Christmas smell, but we never in 100 years thought this could happen,” said Mr Douglas.

“On Monday night we caught him eating it, and of course we took it off him thinking nothing of it, but by the next morning he was so sick - so we rushed him to the vets.

“He died the same night we brought him back from the vets, just over 24 hours after he ate it.

“We just feel so guilty by bringing this stuff into the house, but we didn’t know.”

The veterinarian told the couple that even if he was brought to the vets overnight, it was almost certain that he would have died on a drip without them there to comfort him.

Alfie had died due to the aromatic essential oils the potpourri was coated in, which gives it the Christmassy smell.

The concentration of essential oils is diluted in dried potpourri, but due to Alfie’s small size it didn’t take much to prove toxic to him.

Common symptoms of potpourri ingestion in dogs include dehydration, gagging, muscle tremors, lethargy, and others.

The couple, who were not aware of the dangers potpourri and essential oils could pose to dogs, posted on social media to warn other pet owners.

“We’ve had loads of messages from people we don’t even know, expressing their sympathies and thanking us for letting them know how dangerous this little ornament could be to their pets,” said Mr Douglas.

“I miss Alfie so much he would sleep with us every night and it’s going to take a long time to get used to him not being here - but if we can save other dog’s from our story it would be great thing in Alfie’s memory.”

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