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What to do if your dog eats chocolate

Every dog owner knows that chocolate and dogs should never mix. It’s a delicious treat for us, but it’s poisonous to our furry friends. In fact, if they can get their paws on a large enough amount, chocolate can be deadly. That’s because it contains an ingredient called theobromine. While us humans are able to metabolise theobromine quickly and easily, dogs aren’t. And because it takes them longer to process it, dangerous levels of toxicity can build up in their systems. Most dogs love a treat of any kind, and sadly they often don’t understand that chocolate is bad for them – so it’s up to us to make sure it’s out of reach. But with Easter fast approaching, there’s likely to be more chocolate around than normal. So here’s what to do if you think your dog ate chocolate:

  1. Work out how much they ate in relation to their size

If a Labrador has one small square of chocolate, he is unlikely to suffer any bad consequences (except for a bit of a dodgy tummy) so you don’t need to panic too much, although you may want to get him checked over to be on the safe side. If he ate a whole bar – or a whole Easter egg as the case may be – it could be a totally different story and you should seek attention from a vet immediately. Likewise, a much smaller dog might become very ill from just a small amount of chocolate. Our advice is that if you are worried your dog ate chocolate it is probably worth a visit to the vet, even if just for peace of mind.

  1. Consider the type of chocolate they ate

Dark chocolate contains the highest levels of theobromine and is therefore most toxic. Even a very small amount can be deadly. Milk and white chocolate is less poisonous. If your dog ate chocolate, it will be helpful for your vet to know which type of chocolate it was so take the packaging with you.

  1. Look out for symptoms

We all know how stealthy dogs can be when it comes to food so it’s possible that if chocolate has been lying around the house, they might have eaten it without you noticing. For this reason, it’s worth being aware of the symptoms of chocolate poisoning, just in case. Vomiting and diarrhoea are often the first signs that something is wrong. Chocolate poisoning in dogs can also cause increased thirst, panting or restlessness, excessive urination, a racing heart rate, muscle spasms and even seizures.

  1. Act fast

If you think your dog ate chocolate it’s important not to waste any time in getting the medical attention he needs. Symptoms typically occur within 4-24 hours but this is dependent on the amount of chocolate consumed. There is no antidote to theobromine but your vet can help your dog vomit to expel the chocolate. Charcoal can also be given which absorbs any theobromine left in the system. If your dog suffers an extreme reaction then they may need a drip fitted and medicated to control seizures.

  1. Never use chocolate as a treat

It goes without saying that chocolate should never be used as a treat or training aid for your dog. If you have a food-obsessed pup on your hands, consider using one of our specially designed dog training toys. The Clam is popular because it allows owners to hide dog-safe treats inside a Velcro pouch as a way of motivating your dog during training by rewarding them from a distance. Then there’s our Food Bag With Ball that is easy to throw and the perfect choice if you want a fun toy for playtime. We hope you have a happy Easter – without any unplanned visits to the vet!

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