This is why you must not give chocolate to dogs - and the signs of chocolate intoxication

Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 6:16 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 6:17 pm

The UK is a nation of chocoholics, with an average of 660,900 tonnes of the sweet treat consumed every year. This equates to 11kg per person per year, or three bars a week.

Chocolate is often shared as a gift or among loved ones, so it may be tempting to share some with your pet. However, it is extremely dangerous for dogs to consume chocolate and can cause chocolate intoxication.

Dog food experts, Canagan, have outlined the side effects of chocolate intoxication and give advice on what to do if you fear your pet is suffering.

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Why is chocolate bad for dogs?

Chocolate is derived from the roasted seeds of Theobroma Cacoa which contain a chemical called theobromine, along with caffeine. While humans can metabolise these ingredients, dogs process them far more slowly, meaning they rise to toxic levels in a pup’s system.

Theobromine is also harmful to humans, but we’re roughly five times more tolerant to this substance than our dogs are.

What are the signs of chocolate poisoning?

The warning signs are vomiting and diarrhoea, and hopefully this may be the extent of the damage, if only a small amount is consumed.

If your pup has eaten lots of chocolate, they may seem excitable, initially. However, because their bodies are unable to process theobromine quickly, they may experience an increased heart rate.

Symptoms can escalate into muscle tremors, seizures and heart arrhythmias. In large enough amounts, chocolate consumption can cause permanent nerve or brain damage. Worse yet, it can prove lethal.

Sugar-free chocolate is no better, as it is artificially sweetened with xylitol, which also contains potentially fatal compounds to our pups. Ingestion of xylitol can lead to a rapid drop in blood sugar levels, which can trigger liver failure in some dogs.

What do I do if my dog eats chocolate?

If your dog eats chocolate, it is wise to take them to the vet immediately - even if they aren’t showing obvious or immediate symptoms. The vet may induce vomiting to purge the chocolate from your pet’s system before it metabolises more dangerous chemicals.