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Dangers of Chocolate: Your Guide This Easter

Easter is fast approaching and as always, there will be plenty of chocolate consumed in households all over the country. For humans, chocolate is a tasty treat and the only danger it poses is to our waistlines. However, the risks it poses to our furry friends is much greater.

Chocolate contains cocoa, and cocoa contains a compound called theobromine. Theobromine is extremely toxic to dogs and also to other pets at certain doses. The amount of theobromine in chocolate is dependent on the type – cocoa powder, baking and dark chocolate have higher amounts of the compound compared to milk or white chocolate.

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If your dog has accidentally got into some of the kid’s Easter eggs, here are some things you should know…

What will happen to my dog?

Theobromine mainly affects the heart, central nervous system and kidneys. Symptoms may occur at anytime between four and 24 hours after your dog has eaten the chocolate and will depend on the amount. These symptoms may include:

  • Restlessness and hyperactivity;
  • Trembling;
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea;
  • Increased drinking and urination;
  • Increased heart rate; and
  • Muscle tremors and/or seizures.

The toxicity of theobromine is dose-related, meaning that its effects will depend on the size of the dog and the amount and type of chocolate eaten.

What Should I Do?

Accidents do happen and luckily chocolate poisoning can be easily treated if you take action early enough. If you are concerned your dog has ingested chocolate of any form, please seek veterinary advice as soon as possible. You can also use this handy calculator below to tell you what symptoms to expect and how severe the situation may be.

*Please note that this calculator is a guide only and you should always seek veterinary advice*

How Is Chocolate Poisoning Treated?

In most cases, the vet will make your dog vomit. They may wash out the stomach and feed them activated charcoal which will absorb any theobromine left in the intestine. Other treatments will depend on the signs your dog is showing such as, intravenous fluids (a drip) or medication to control heart rate, blood pressure and seizure activity.

With swift intervention and treatment, the outcomes for affected dogs are usually good — even for those who have eaten large amounts.

However, as the saying goes, prevention is better than a cure. So make sure to keep all chocolates out of reach from your dog and ensure kids don’t leave any Easter eggs lying around.