As we approach Easter, and our homes flood with an abundance of chocolate eggs in every shape and flavour – it’s important to remember that chocolate is extremely toxic for dogs and must be stored in areas that are not accessible to their curious paws and quick mouths.
Chocolate is toxic for dogs because it contains both theobromine and caffeine (otherwise known as methylxanthines) – which speeds up your dog's heart rate and stimulates their nervous system. The effects that chocolate has on your dog will depend on their size, the type of chocolate they have eaten, and the amount of chocolate they have consumed.
Here’s a list of common chocolates listed in order of toxicity to your dog (containing the highest level of theobromine)
1. Cocoa powder (highest concentration of theobromine)
2. Unsweetened baker’s chocolate
3. Dark chocolate
4. Semisweet chocolate
5. Milk chocolate
If your dog consumes chocolate, it will be helpful for the Vet if you make a note of what type of chocolate they have eaten and how much (eg. one square, ½ a block, etc). Understanding this detail will help your Vet determine the best course of action.
As a general rule, toxicity can occur when a dog consumes 20mg of methylxanthines per kg of body weight. Cardiac implications can occur if your dog has consumed 40-50mg of methylxanthines per kg, severe poisoning and seizures occur if your dog consumes more than 60mg/kg.
If you suspect or have witnessed your dog consuming chocolate, it is crucial that you contact your Vet immediately. If your dog is presenting the following symptoms, do not wait and take them directly to the Vet:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Quickened heart rate
If you are planning on having an Easter egg hunt, please ensure that your dog has been safely locked away from the yard and that there are no eggs left behind for them to find. We also recommend that you store chocolate eggs in high cupboards and educate children that chocolate can make dogs very sick.
We want you all to have a safe and happy Easter, including your four-legged companion.