Easter is a religious time of year but for most of us, it is where we get to eat as much chocolate as possible. Munching our way through a pile of Easter eggs and sharing them with the family dog whilst watching a favourite film.
STOP right there a moment. Rewind and pause.
Dogs and chocolate do not go together. You may think you are being a caring dog owner by giving your canine companion a chunk of Green & Black’s finest, but you are doing more harm than good.
According to the Dogs Trust, at least 1 in 10 dogs become sick after eating chocolate and almost a quarter of these have been rushed to the vets for emergency treatment.
Why chocolate is bad news for dogs
Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine that behaves in a similar way to caffeine. This alkaloid (plant-derived compound) forms part of a class of substances called methylxanthines and acts as both a diuretic and a stimulant.
This caffeine-like substance is present in all types of chocolate including the ‘cooking’ variety, cocoa, tea and cola. Dark chocolate contains the highest amounts of theobromine as compared to milk and white chocolate, which contain a lesser amount.
Its caffeine-like effects are relatively harmless for humans unless consumed in very large amounts but are toxic for dogs. Dogs are unable to metabolise this substance in the way humans can and experience the following symptoms:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Vomiting (this may contain blood)
- Increased thirst
- Abdominal pains
The severity of these symptoms depends on the type of dog and the amount of chocolate consumed.
The signs of theobromine poisoning appear between 4 and 24 hours after the chocolate has been consumed. If your dog displays any or all of these symptoms then contact your vet immediately.
How to have a dog-friendly Easter
As tempting as it is, avoid giving your dog a piece of your Easter egg or human chocolate in general. Go for sugar free ‘choc drops’ which don’t contain any theobromine and are specially formulated for dogs. Alternately, choose from a range of healthy dog snacks such as biscuits, bones and chews.
Don’t leave Easter eggs lying around where your dog can get them. Place them out of reach and if you have children, instruct them not to feed chocolate to the dog. But if an egg has gone missing and you think your dog has eaten it, contact your vet for advice.
Have a Happy Easter!