It’s seems like we’ve only just packed away the Christmas decorations and now the Easter chocolates are appearing on supermarket shelves. And while all this chocolate poses a danger to our waistlines, it’s even more hazardous for our pets.
Many dog owners have tales of waking up to discover their pooch has eaten all the Easter chocolate, and while these might make funny videos for YouTube, these stories can have tragic endings.
Chocolate contains cocoa, and cocoa has a compound in it called theobromine, which is toxic to dogs. It can also be toxic to other pets, but perhaps because dogs are naturally curious, they seem to be the most affected. The toxicity of chocolate depends on its concentration of theobromine. Chocolate with a higher cocoa concentrate will be more toxic – so cocoa powder and dark chocolate contain higher does of theobromine than milk chocolate. Theobromine is more toxic to dogs with certain medical conditions, such as heart disease or kidney issues.
And it’s not just the theobromine that can cause problems. Nuts, caffeine and artificial sweeteners, which can also be present in chocolates, are also toxic. And remember, your dog won’t carefully peel off the foil or plastic wrappers before digging in, so he could also end up with nasty foreign bodies in his stomach.
If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, signs of theobromine poisoning can include panting, restlessness, vomiting, diarrhoea and an increased heat rate. More serious signs include tremors, seizures and coma.
The good news is if you discover your dog soon after his little feast you do have time to get him to the vet as it can take a few hours for dangerous symptoms to develop. Your vet might try to induce vomiting and will probably recommend your dog stay overnight so the staff can monitor him.