Molly the dog with chocolate

Hundreds of pets are poisoned every year due to chocolate

Many pets required emergency treatment after falling victim to the harmful effects of theobromine – a common ingredient in human chocolate.

Each year, PDSA vets and nurses see over 400 cases where dogs had eaten potentially life-threatening chocolate across the UK.

Worryingly, research from the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report, the biggest assessment of pet health and wellbeing in the UK, has revealed that nearly half a million dogs could be at risk of being poisoned as 6% of owners admitted to giving their pets human chocolate.

Chocolate poisoning symptoms

The effects of chocolate poisoning in dogs usually appear within 4 to 24 hours of eating. Initial signs can include excessive thirst, vomiting, a tender tummy, drooling and restlessness. These symptoms can then progress to tremors, an abnormal heart rhythm, raised body temperature and rapid breathing. In severe cases dogs can experience fits, kidney failure or even death.

High quality dark chocolates, which often contain the largest cocoa solids content, pose the biggest risk to dogs. A small bar of dark chocolate contains more than enough theobromine to fatally poison a small dog such as a Yorkshire Terrier.

Bad for the waistline

The high sugar content of chocolate is also no good for pets’ waistlines or teeth either, contributing to obesity and dental disease.

And it’s not just chocolate eggs that can harm our pets. Other popular Easter food treats such as chocolate coated raisins, peanuts and coffee beans are even more dangerous to pets, due to a potentially lethal cocktail of toxic chemicals they contain.

Vet advice

PDSA Senior Vet Elaine Pendlebury said: “Owners should store chocolates in the same way as medicines when they have pets in their household – safely and securely. If you can’t resist giving them a little Easter treat, make sure it is something pet-friendly, suitable and safe. A new toy or a nice long walk is a good alternative.”

For further pet health advice please visit our pet health section.

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