With Easter around the corner there are chocolate eggs and bunnies everywhere you look. Unfortunately it is also the time of year that vets receive most calls of dogs ingesting chocolate and becoming ill. While chocolate is a fantastic treat for humans to enjoy, it can be very dangerous if consumed by dogs.

Why is chocolate bad for dogs?
Chocolate’s main ingredient is something called theobromine which is toxic to dogs. Chocolate also contains caffeine which is extremely dangerous for dogs as it can cause over stimulation of the nervous system and increases their heart rate.
Some chocolate contains higher levels of methylxanthines making it more dangerous. Generally the darker the chocolate is, the more toxic it is to your dog.

What happens to a dog that has eaten chocolate?
Theobromine, the main ingredient in chocolate, affects the central nervous system, heart and kidneys. Chocolate can lead to illness and even death in dogs.
Symptoms to look out for include vomiting, diarrhoea, increased thirst, restlessness, excessive panting, shaking and seizures.

What should I do if my dog has eaten chocolate?
If your dog manages to consume chocolate you should contact a vet immediately. You should let the vet know how much your dog weighs, what type of chocolate it ate and approximately how much. This will help the vet in working out how toxic the chocolate will be to your dog and what treatment is best.
There is a window of time after ingestion that a vet may have to successfully flush the chocolate from the dog’s stomach, so it is important to go to a vet immediately to limit the time your pet has to digest the chocolate.
If you have seen or suspect your dog has eaten chocolate but is showing no symptoms it is still best to contact a vet. Symptoms can start showing anywhere between 4-24 hours after the chocolate has been consumed.

How can I prevent my dog from eating chocolate?
To ensure your dog does not have to make a trip to the vet over Easter make sure any chocolate you have in the house is out of reach or securely away.
If you plan on having an Easter egg hunt keep the dog distracted in a separate part of the house so they can’t go sniffing out the hidden chocolate.
Buy carob chocolate. Carob is safe for dogs to eat as it doesn’t contain theobromine or caffeine. It is also 100% natural and is high in vitamins B1, B2, calcium, magnesium and iron. Carob chocolate can be a great idea if you have younger children who may want to share their chocolate with the dog, instead give them a few pieces of carob chocolate that they can share with them. You can buy carob chocolate for dogs from most pet stores and supermarkets.

Hope you all have a lovely Easter!

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