“I’ve heard that chocolate is bad for dogs. Is there any truth in that or is it an old wives tail?”
With Easter just around the corner and an abundance of chocolate eggs in the shops this is a very timely question. If your dog is anything like mine they will sniff out chocolate at a hundred paces and, if given the opportunity, eat it without a second thought, with or without the wrapper!
So, in answer to the question, yes, chocolate can be harmful to dogs. Chocolate contains a substance called Theobromine which is poisonous to dogs. It is a stimulant and is bit like caffeine that we find in coffee with which we are all familiar.
There are different amounts of Theobromine in different types of chocolate. Generally speaking the darker the chocolate the higher the amount of theobromine. This means that if your dog eats unsweetened (dark or baking chocolate) it will be a more risk of poisoning than if it eats milk chocolate. White chocolate contains hardly any Theobromine. The effect is also dependent on the amount of chocolate consumed so often smaller pets will often be at higher risk. If a Labrador and a Yorkie eat the same sized bar of chocolate the effect will be worse for the Yorkie as it’s so much smaller.
“So what might I expect to see if my dogs eat chocolate?” Consuming chocolate can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea, hyperactivity or restlessness. It can cause rapid breathing and incoordination. Eventually theobromine poisoning can even lead to heart problems and seizures.
The safest thing for your pet is not to give or allow access to chocolate and to be particularly careful on occasions such as Easter and Christmas when we tend to have more chocolate in the house and people may be distracted with festivities. However, if your pet eats some chocolate please call your vet for advice with the following information to hand:
Quantity of chocolate consumed – it may say on the packaging.
Type (Milk, dark, cooking) – Keep the wrapper to refer to.
Approximate time that it was eaten
Approximate weight of your dog.
Your vet will then be able to advise you if your pet is at any risk. If the chocolate has been consumed fairly recently you may be advised to bring him to the clinic where he will be given an injection to make him sick and remove the chocolate before it can do any harm.
We recently saw two dogs that had helped themselves to a quantity of chocolate when their owner wasn’t looking. Thanks to the owner’s prompt action and treatment at the clinic the dogs have made a full recover It’s just a shame that dogs don’t learn from their mistakes but at least, as owners, we can learn from others and hopefully prevent our own pets having a similar experience.
Veerle Browne DVM MRCVS
This course is aimed at anyone who requires a course in first aid for pets. It is ideal for Pet owners or Pet professionals. It covers the main first aid subjects for Dogs and Cats but this information is also suitable for most other animals. Understanding basic first aid for your pet will give you the skills to assist them and prevent them from getting worse before professional help is given by your vet. The certificate is valid for 3 years. (Click on pet first aid image for booking details)
We will publish a regular Newsletter here on our website to keep you up-dated with developments in our veterinary practice and other news and features that we feel might benefit you.
Do please come back to this page to receive an up-date on what's going on.
News Item 1 - Our Practice Online
In keeping with the huge growth in the internet and the number of people online (33 million people in the UK, would you believe it!), we are delighted to have launched our practice website.
This site is designed for new and existing customers alike and provides a wealth of information about the veterinary practice and pet healthcare in general.
We encourage you to use the website as a source of information as it will be updated regularly to ensure that the latest contact details, opening hours and information on our services are always at your fingertips.