Thousands of dogs are expected to be treated for chocolate poisoning over the Christmas period this year.
Figures show there have already been an estimated 6,609 cases of chocolate poisoning in dogs this year – a 138 per cent increase since 2014.
More than a quarter of cases occur during the festive period and can cost pet owners an average of almost £300 in vet bills – an incident best avoided for both you and your dog.
So why is chocolate so dangerous?
Westley Pearson, Claims & Marketing Director at Animalfriends.co.uk told UNILAD the treat contains a chemical compound called theobromine, which is actually also poisonous to humans – but we need to eat 12kg of chocolate in order to feel the effects.
Dogs, on the other hand, only require a relatively tiny amount to cause their liver to fail.
Even non-lethal doses of theobromine can cause permanent liver damage, so if your dog has eaten ANY quantity of chocolate it’s crucial to consult your vet as soon as possible. They may be able to conduct a telephone consultation, and based on the amount they’ve eaten and their size, they may have different recommendations.
That means even a small bite could be dangerous, if not fatal. While people may think tiny amounts in moderation are fine, Pearson says even relatively small quantities of chocolate can be deathly poisonous to dogs.
So how do you know if your dog has eaten chocolate? Pearson says: “Vomiting is a good sign, as it means your dog is getting rid of the poison, however you should still take your pet to your local vet.”
He also added that dog-owners should take extra care as chocolate poisoning can lead to seizures and comas.
If your dog has eaten an excessive amount of chocolate, they may experience a feeling of restlessness and a sense of increased energy. This is followed by tremors, weakness and balance problems.
It’s very important that as soon as your dog has eaten the chocolate, you get them examined by a vet. Symptoms such as seizures, muscle spasms and even comas can occur as a result of chocolate poisoning, so take every precaution you can.
Other food to watch out for around the holidays are bones, Christmas cakes and pies, and nuts – but chocolate still takes top spot as the number one danger.
If you can’t resist the urge to slide your pet a little bit of Christmas dinner under the table, make sure it won’t make them sick. According to Animal Friends’ list of safe festive foods, they can have: Turkey without the trimmings, cooked potato, vegetable treats, cooked eggs, and fresh fruit (except for grapes and raisins).
Divulge as much as you want over the holidays, just make sure your pets don’t pay the price.