Party Foul Swimming and Cookie Dough a Dangerous Mix for French Bulldog

Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Selects July’s Most Unusual Claim

Brea, Calif. (Aug. 14, 2013) – Each year, when the Fourth of July rolls around, many pet owners are concerned about how their furry friends will react to the loud fireworks. For Nikki and Justin Kanter of Chicago, fireworks were the least of their worries after Pierre, their one-year-old French bulldog overindulged on chocolate chip cookie dough and took an unplanned dip in the swimming pool while attending a Fourth of July get-together. The party pitfall resulted in a trip to the emergency animal hospital where Pierre was treated for shock and excessive gas, earning him the title of July’s “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI).

At his Nana’s annual Independence Day party, Pierre was content playing around the patio begging for food and watching the children splash around in the swimming pool when he spotted a toy pool noodle that he just had to get his paws on. As Pierre reached to grab the noodle, he missed the object and toppled into the pool, sending Nikki into an immediate panic as she rushed to save him.

“Despite paddling his short little legs, he sank like a stone,” explained Nikki. “He looked absolutely frightened. Fortunately, our friend Brynn immediately dunked down and rescued Pierre from the bottom of the pool. After a minute of being out of the water he seemed fine, just shaken up a bit.”

Following the terrifying pool incident, the Kanters dried Pierre off and put him inside the house before they joined the rest of the party in the backyard. Little did they know that Pierre would quickly find mischief inside the house as well. After being alerted by a friend to some suspicious noises coming from the laundry room, Nikki went back inside the house to discover that Pierre had eaten chocolate chip cookie dough that was tucked away inside of a bag. However, other than seeming a bit drowsy, Pierre seemed no worse for wear so the Kanters left the party and headed home.

“Pierre slept in my lap on the ride home,” said Nikki. “When we got out of our car, Pierre collapsed so we took him upstairs to our condo and he collapsed again. Since we didn't know if he was still affected by his near drowning or what kind of chocolate he consumed, we took him to the emergency animal hospital immediately.”

At the emergency animal hospital, Pierre was treated for shock. The cookie dough had given Pierre such bad gas that his stomach expanded to the point that the veterinarian was unable to view his lungs in the X-rays. Luckily, after the veterinarian gave Pierre activated charcoal to release the gas and ensure he was not poisoned by the chocolate, it was determined he was healthy enough to go back home for close monitoring. Fortunately, Pierre has since made a full recovery.

“Pierre is doing great, but he did not learn his lesson” said Nikki. “He still tries to scavenge for whatever food he can find but we keep a much more watchful eye on him now. We also bought him a life vest with a special inflatable collar to keep his large Frenchie head above water. It’s now mandatory that he wears it the entire time he visits Nana’s house.”

“The Kanters are very fortunate that Pierre’s cookie dough incident wasn’t more serious,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Consumption of the yeast inherent in dough can cause significant illness. Clearly, Pierre had a traumatic day, and he was lucky to have such great supervision while playing around the pool. In addition to putting life vests on pets that play around pools, it is also helpful to familiarize them with actually swimming in the pool, so pets know where to find the steps and how to get out of the water.”

Despite being just a puppy, Pierre seems to have already had a lifetime’s worth of injuries and illnesses. His ailments over the past year have ranged from food allergies to a scuffle-induced broken toenail to corneal eye problems. Pierre has since made a full recovery from all of his ailments and the Kanters are happy with their decision to purchase pet insurance to help defray costs of their veterinary bills.

“Initially, my husband didn’t think we needed pet insurance and now he thanks his lucky stars that I ignored him and signed Pierre up for VPI Pet Insurance anyway,” explained Nikki. “Being a puppy, Pierre has had a lot of claims over the past year and VPI has helped us afford the absolutely best veterinary care. We’re hopeful that we won’t be making any claims for a long time but we have peace of mind knowing that Pierre is covered if we do.”

Pierre’s incident was one of more than 80,000 claims received in the month of July by VPI, the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, and was selected by VPI employees as the most unusual of the bunch. Honorable mentions in July included a domestic shorthair cat that suffered a broken jaw after his collar got stuck on an iron magazine rack, a poodle that was kicked in the mouth by a horse, and a golden retriever that chewed up and swallowed the television remote control. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

As the most unusual claim submitted in July, Pierre is the first of the 2014 VPI Hambone Award nominees, for which voting will take place in September of next year. Voting for the 2013 Hambone Award, which includes nominees from July 2012 to June 2013, will open to the public on September 24, 2013 at The VPI Hambone Award is named in honor of a VPI-insured dog that got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting for someone to rescue him. The dog was eventually found, with a licked-clean ham bone and a mild case of hypothermia.

Stories and pictures of the Hambone Award nominees are at

Digital images of Pierre are available upon request. Send requests to

About VPI Hambone Award

The VPI Hambone Award is named in honor of a VPI-insured dog that got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting for someone to rescue him. The dog was eventually found, with a licked-clean ham bone and a mild case of hypothermia. This quirky title was first awarded in 2009 to Lulu, a hungry English bulldog who swallowed 15 baby pacifiers, a bottle cap and a piece of a basketball. The VPI Hambone Award and these unusual pet insurance claims have since helped educate the public about the unexpected mishaps that can affect household pets. Stories and pictures of the VPI Hambone Award nominees are available at

About Veterinary Pet Insurance

With more than 500,000 pets insured nationwide, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency (VPI) is a member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies and is the oldest and largest pet health insurance company in the United States. Since 1982, VPI has helped provide pet owners with peace of mind and is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers.

VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. CareGuard® coverage for routine care is available for an additional premium. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, one in three Fortune 500 companies offers VPI Pet Insurance as an employee benefit. Policies are offered and administered by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and DVM Insurance Agency in all other states. Underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (CA), Brea, CA, an A.M. Best A rated company (2012); National Casualty Company (all other states), Madison, WI, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2012). Pet owners can find VPI Pet Insurance on Facebook or follow @VPI on Twitter. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit

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