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The risks of Easter for dogs: Chocolate poisoning

Easter is an indulgent time of the year in Hawick and whilst chocolate is a fond treat for us, it can have serious outcomes for dogs if they eat it. As a devoted pet owner, we know how important it is for you to be informed about potential dangers that our furry friends may face. At Hawick Veterinary Practice we share our valuable insights in this article, and guidance about chocolate and the affects it can have on your dog.

Understanding chocolate poisoning

Caffeine and theobromine are stimulants found in chocolate that belong to the methylxanthine class of compounds. These substances are dangerous to dogs even if they are comparatively safe for people. In dogs, theobromine affects the circulatory and central neurological systems, causing moderate to severe symptoms.

Recognising symptoms of chocolate poisoning

  1. Early signs:

The initial symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include:

  • restlessness
  • increased heart rate
  • excessive thirst.

Paying attention to these early signs is important for quick action.

  1. Advanced symptoms:

As the toxicity progresses, more severe symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle tremors, and even seizures may occur. In extreme cases, chocolate poisoning can be fatal for your dog.

Emergency measures

In the unfortunate event of your pet ingesting chocolate, please contact your local vet at Hawick Vets.

  1. Contact a local vet:

Immediately reach out to your local vets for guidance. Provide details such as the type and amount of chocolate consumed, as well as your dog's weight and breed.

At Hawick Veterinary Practice we can provide help and advice to help keep your dog safe and healthy, so please contact us right away in Hawick!

  1. Inducing vomiting:

Under the vet's direction, you may need to induce vomiting to expel the chocolate from your dog's system. This should only be done under professional veterinary supervision and they will let you know when you call if this needs doing.

Important: If your vet suspects that your dog has ingested a potentially toxic amount of chocolate, they will need to induce vomiting using specific medication. This needs to be done close to the time of ingestion to be effective. Contact your vet clinic as soon as you realise that your dog has eaten chocolate.

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  1. Activated charcoal administration:

To absorb the last of the poisons in the stomach, the vet may occasionally advise using activated charcoal.

Chocolate varieties and toxicity levels

Not all chocolates are created equal and their theobromine content varies significantly. See below for a breakdown on the different types of chocolate and their toxicity.

Dark chocolate:

Dark chocolate contains the highest theobromine concentration, making it the most toxic for dogs. Even a small amount can lead to poisoning.

Milk chocolate:

While less toxic than dark chocolate, milk chocolate can still pose a threat, especially if consumed in larger quantities.

White chocolate:

White chocolate has the lowest theobromine content, but it's essential to note that it still contains small amounts. While this has the lowest toxicity, large quantities can lead to poisoning.

Diabetic chocolate:

Diabetic chocolate also contains xylitol, which can be life-threatening to your dog.

Essential preventative measures you can take

Secure chocolate access:

Keep your dog away from any chocolate-related goods where possible. Including baked items, chocolate bars, and even cocoa powder.

Educate family and friends:

Spreading the word about the risks of giving chocolate to dogs to your family and friends can help with raising awareness between dog owners. Consider sharing this article with them to let them know.

Choose dog-friendly treats:

Select dog-specific treats – there are many dog-friendly substitutes available that taste just like chocolate but don't include any dangerous additives. Or instead, choose to treat your dog with the right kind of treats, such as carrots, apples (without the core or seeds), green beans and bananas.

Contact Hawick Veterinary Practice if your dog has consumed chocolate

Being aware of the dangers of chocolate poisoning is important in caring for your dog and can avoid unwanted emergencies. Recognising symptoms, taking immediate action, and implementing preventative measures can help keep your furry friend healthy and avoid a potentially life-threatening situation.

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Share this vital information with fellow dog owners in Hawick to create a safer environment for our beloved companions.

Hawick Veterinary Practice

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