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Chocolate poisonings in dogs are expected to peak over Easter weekend, vets warn 

With Easter just a matter of days away now, many excited Brits will eagerly be deciding which chocolate treats to indulge in.

But if you have a dog, it’s important you keep any Easter chocolate away from your pooch.

Chocolate contains a chemical called ‘theobromine’, which is toxic to dogs and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures and heart problems, even in small amounts.

Worryingly, experts from Blue Cross pet charity have warned that chocolate poisonings in dogs are expected to peak around Easter, and are urging pet owners to be vigilant about keeping any chocolate treats away from their dogs this weekend.

Experts from Blue Cross pet charity have warned that chocolate poisonings in dogs are expected to peak around Easter, and are urging pet owners to be vigilant about keeping any chocolate treats away from their dogs this weekend (stock image) 

Why can’t dogs eat chocolate? 

Chocolate contains a chemical called ‘theobromine’, which is toxic to dogs.

Even small amounts of it can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures and heart problems.

The darker the chocolate, the higher the level of theobromine, and therefore the more toxic it is.

White chocolate, although it doesn’t contain enough theobromine to cause toxicity, is fatty and full of sugar and can pose a potential risk of pancreatitis.

Even without the danger of toxicity, chocolate is not a healthy snack for dogs, causing obesity and poor health, and is therefore best avoided.

Source: Blue Cross

Ahead of the Easter weekend, Blue Cross has revealed that Easter is its busiest period for treating chocolate poisonings in dogs.

Caroline Reay, Head of Veterinary Services at national pet charity Blue Cross, said: ‘Easter is our busiest period for treating chocolate-related incidents, along with Christmas, at our hospitals.

‘We’d always urge owners to keep any chocolate well out of the reach of their pets.’ 

Chocolate contains a chemical called ‘theobromine’, which is toxic to dogs. 

The level of toxicity depends on the amount and type of chocolate swallowed, with dark chocolate and cocoa powder being the most dangerous. 

Small dogs and puppies are most at risk from theobromine poisoning due to their size and weight.

Ms Reay explained: ‘Whilst it is a delicious treat for humans, chocolate can be extremely toxic to cats and dogs and should never be fed to them. 

‘It contains a chemical, theobromine, which is a bit like caffeine and is toxic to dogs and cats.

‘As a general rule, the darker the chocolate, the higher the levels of theobromine become.’

In 2020, the pet charity reported 20 cases of pets being brought into Blue Cross’ London animal hospital for chocolate toxicity from January to June. 

One of the 20 dogs treated was a five-month-old puppy called Romee, which was rushed into the vet after accidentally consuming chocolate

One of the 20 dogs treated was a five-month-old puppy called Romee, which was rushed into the vet after accidentally consuming chocolate

One of the 20 dogs treated was a five-month-old puppy called Romee, who was rushed into the vet after accidentally consuming chocolate.

Romee’s owner said: ‘I just left the chocolate on the side for a moment, I feel awful, but called Blue Cross as soon as I thought he’d eaten it because I knew it was toxic.’

Thankfully, the vets were able to quickly confirm that Romee had eaten chocolate and were able to treat the dog.

If your dog does accidentally consume any chocolate this Easter, it’s crucial that you call your vet immediately, according to Ms Reay.

‘It really is best to avoid your pets getting access to any sort of chocolate,’ she added.

‘If you have seen your dog eat something that they shouldn’t, don’t wait for symptoms to appear. Call your vet immediately and ask for their advice.’

Blue Cross’ warning comes shortly after a survey by The Voice of the Veterinary Profession, which asked 850 vets if they had seen any cases of chocolate poisoning in pets during the Easter holiday period.

The results revealed that 60 per cent reported having treated at least one case.

Danielle Dos Santos, Junior Vice President of the British Veterinary Association, said: ‘It is concerning that a high proportion of vets are still seeing pets coming in with chocolate poisoning as this can be easily avoided. 

‘To avoid an Easter emergency and keep it enjoyable all round, we advise that owners keep chocolate and sweet treats out of reach of pets, inside cupboards and sealed away where possible.’

WHAT ARE THE TEN COMMONLY HELD MYTHS ABOUT DOGS?

It is easy to believe that dogs like what we like, but this is not always strictly true. 

Here are ten things which people should remember when trying to understand their pets, according to Animal behaviour experts Dr Melissa Starling and Dr Paul McGreevy, from the University of Sydney.

1. Dogs don’t like to share 

2. Not all dogs like to be hugged or patted 

3. A barking dog is not always an aggressive dog 

4. Dogs do not like other dogs entering their territory/home

5. Dogs like to be active and don’t need as much relaxation time as humans 

6. Not all dogs are overly friendly, some are shyer to begin with  

7. A dog that appears friendly can soon become aggressive 

8. Dogs need open space and new areas to explore. Playing in the garden won’t always suffice 

9. Sometimes a dog isn’t misbehaving, it simply does not understand what to do or what you want 

10. Subtle facial signals often preempt barking or snapping when a dog is unhappy


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