Thursday, March 24, 2016

Chocolate is NOT good for dogs. Just in case you didn't know

Easter weekend is just around the corner and we all know what that means...

It's probably going to rain and there's going to be a lot if chocolate around.

Which is great, because chocolate contains a substance called theobromine which is a bit of a stimulant (like caffeine) and it makes some of us feel a bit better (in some cases a LOT better).

The problem is that some dogs find it hard to resist eating chocolate when they find it lying around at home and theobromine is quite poisonous for dogs. Too much theobromine affects the heart, nervous system and kidneys. It can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness and agitation, a raised heart rate, muscle tension, loss of coordination, rapid breathing and in severe cases seizures and death.

Symptoms can start just a few hours after eating chocolate. 

Different types of chocolate contain different amounts of theobromine. For example white chocolate contains very little. Every 25 grams of milk chocolate contains around 50 milligrams of theobromine and unsweetened (baking) chocolate contains around 400 milligrams of theobromine in each 25 grams.

The toxic dose of theobromine for dogs is around 100-150 milligrams for each kilo of bodyweight. In real English that means that a 250 gram bar of dark chocolate can be fatal for a Labrador weighing around 25kg.

So what should you do if your dog eats some chocolate?
Our first advice would be to call your vet. Once they know your dog's body weight, what type of chocolate they've eaten and roughly how much (and it's best to over-estimate if you're not sure), they'll be able to calculate fairly precisely whether you need to be worried or not.

If your dog has eaten a toxic amount, veterinary treatment is likely to involve making your dog vomit, possibly washing out the stomach, and maybe giving a substance called activated charcoal to absorb any remaining toxins. If this is done quickly, the prognosis is generally good, but far better to intervene quickly than to wait until it's too late.

On that happy note, have a Happy Easter but best to hide the chocolate!

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