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Keep Your Dog Safe This Easter – Avoid Chocolate Poisoning

Keep Your Dog Safe This Easter – Avoid Chocolate Poisoning

Keep Your Dog Safe This Easter – Avoid Chocolate Poisoning

Easter eggs, rabbits and chocolates – these are some of the wonderful things that come to mind when we think of Easter. But sadly Chocolate is not a treat we should be sharing with our dogs. Chocolate, in particular, is toxic to dogs and can cause many unpleasant symptoms. Every pet owner wants their furry friend to stay healthy and happy, and with a little bit of knowledge and care, you can make sure your dog is safe this Easter. Here’s what you need to know about chocolate toxicity and how you can prevent pet poisoning.

Understanding Chocolate Toxicity

Chocolate is a natural stimulant that contains a substance called theobromine which is similar to Caffeine. Unlike humans, dogs are not able to metabolize this substance efficiently, leading to the substance accumulating in their body. This is why dogs are more sensitive to the effects of chocolate. The build-up of Theobromine mainly affects a dog’s guts, heart, central nervous system and kidneys and can cause a variety of symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures, and in severe cases, even death.  


How much chocolate is dangerous ? 

The effect and signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs depend on the amount and type of chocolate eaten as well as the size and breed of the dog. 

Dogs should not be given any chocolate but the darker the chocolate (Think the posh 70% cocoa solid) - the higher the level of theobromine it contains and therefore the more toxic and poisonous. Milk chocolate is less harmful and white chocolate - less again but this does not mean they aren't still dangerous due to high amounts of sugar and fat. Dark chocolate, baker’s chocolate and cocoa powder is typically the most toxic.

You can find a calculator here at Petsi.co which will provide a guide but it is always best to seek Veterinary advice as soon as possible, especially if the amount of theobromine per kg is in the region of 20mg/kg. 

For example if Skye (Approx 25kg in body weight) ate a normal 45g Dairy milk it would equate to roughly 100 mg of Theobromine or 4mg per kg. A larger 350g bar is over 800 mg = 32 mg per kg which is a dangerous level for Skye. Now imagine this for a smaller dog dog such as Charlie - a little cairn terrier at 12kg - this would be a potential fatal amount.  Then consider if this was a high percentage Dark chocolate! 


Preventing Chocolate Poisoning

The best way to prevent chocolate poisoning is to keep chocolate away from your dog. This may seem obvious, but it can be easier said than done. Be mindful of where you store chocolate in the house, as dogs are very inquisitive and will go to great lengths to get their paws on those tempting chocolates. Make sure to keep chocolates out of reach as much as you can. You can also have a conversation with your children and guests of your home at Easter about the importance of keeping chocolate out of your dog's reach. Remember, the more chocolate your dog ingests, the more harmful it will be to their health. Be vigilant.

Symptoms and Treatment

The symptoms of theobromine poisoning can take up to 6-12 hours to develop, but dogs should be monitored for at least 24hrs.  If you suspect your dog has ingested chocolate, immediately monitor them for any unusual behaviour, such as vomiting, diarrhoea, trembling, or hyperactivity. It is important not to assume that they will be okay on their own. Call your vet immediately; they will want to know your dogs weight, the type of chocolate, how much they have eaten and when they have eaten it. Keep any samples or wrappers and take then with you if your vet recommends bringing your dog in for emergency treatment. These details will help the vet determine the severity of your dog’s condition and administer treatment accordingly.

There is no antidote to theobromine. Based on all the above factors, your Vet will decide on the best course of treatment. This may be to induced vomiting and feed activated charcoal which helps absorb toxins. They may think fluids are required via a drip to help stabilise blood pressure, heart rate or any seizures. 

Its important not to panic and the prognosis is very good for Dogs that get treatment and early Veterinary advice. 

Alternatives to Chocolate Treats

These days veterinary clinics and pet shops have devised healthy alternatives to chocolate treats which are safe and also come in different varieties. Carob is one alternative if you want your dog to join in with a treat at Easter. While chocolate comes from cocoa beans, carob comes from the inside of the pod of a carob tree.  This is dried and ground down to a sweet powder or found as a Carob Chip. It is best used as an ingredient rather than a stand alone treat. 

Enjoy Easter...

Easter can be an enjoyable holiday with your family and pet dog. However, the festivities should be without compromising your pet’s safety. Remember to always keep chocolate and other Easter treats out of reach of your furry friend. If you suspect that your pet has accidentally ingested chocolate, act quickly, and get help from your vet. Lastly, consider giving your pet a safe and healthy alternative to satisfy their munchies. By taking these precautions, you can enjoy Easter with your entire family, including your pet dog!