Everything you need to know to keep your dog safe
Why is chocolate so toxic to dogs?
Chocolate contains both theobromine and caffeine, both of which speed up the heart rate and stimulate the nervous system of dogs. Although theobromine is easily digested by us humans, it can't be broken down by a dog’s digestive system, so becomes toxic.
But it's not just the amount of chocolate that has an effect on how badly a dog reacts; the level of cocoa and the darkness of the chocolate also has an effect - with darker chocolate containing a higher level of the toxic theobromine. As a rough guide, around 50g of plain chocolate could be enough to kill a small dog such as a Yorkshire Terrier, while just 400g could be enough to kill an average size dog.
Recognising the symptoms of chocolate poisoning
- Sore tummy
- Dehydration or excessive thirst
- Hyperactivity and excitability
- High temperature and blood pressure
- Abnormal heart rhythm or tremors
- In severe cases, epileptic-type fits
The effects of chocolate poisoning in dogs usually appear within 4 hours of eating with symptoms potentially lasting up to 72 hours.
What to do if your dog eats chocolate
There is no antidote for theobromine poisoning with treatment being symptomatic, therefore the sooner treatment is given, the greater the chance of recovery. If you believe your dog has eaten chocolate, call your vet and inform them of the amount eaten, the type of chocolate consumed and the size of your dog. Based on this information your vet will recommend whether you monitor your dog from home and call back if symptoms worsen, or whether your pet should be taken in to see the vet as a matter of urgency.
Protecting your dog from chocolate poisoning
- Never be tempted to share your chocolate with your dog
- Store chocolate and rich treats where dogs can't reach them - a high shelf or in a cupboard
- Remind children to not leave their chocolate where dogs can sniff it out
- Teach your dog the command ‘leave it’ - so they know the rules
- Provide dog-friendly treats as an alternative