It’s that time of year again when our houses fill with chocolate, whether we’re treating ourselves or loved ones.

As Easter approaches, dog owners are being warned about the dangers of chocolate for our furry friends.

Natural dog food brand Harringtons and their vet Peter Wright have shared what you should do if your dog gets hold of the toxic treat.

Why can’t dogs eat chocolate?

Although chocolate is a treat many humans like to enjoy, it’s toxic for dogs and it can cause serious health problems and in some cases, even death.

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Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which dogs aren’t able to process as quickly as humans can. Chocolate also contains caffeine which is something else dogs struggle to digest.

Depending on the strength of the chocolate, theobromine levels will vary – a general rule of thumb is that the darker the chocolate, the higher the amount of theobromine.

The amount and type of chocolate consumed is key in determining the potential damage it could cause.

Based on his experience of treating pets, The Yorkshire Vet and Harringtons expert Peter Wright said: “An odd chocolate or so is probably not going to do any harm, but a whole box or bar of chocolate can have very serious consequences.

“Chocolate contains a stimulant called Theobromine, which is safe for humans but not for our pets.

“Theobromine is much more concentrated in darker chocolate and, therefore, more dangerous.” 

What should you do if your dog eats chocolate?

If your dog has ingested any amount of chocolate, it’s best to seek professional medical advice from your vet immediately.

Take note of your dog’s weight and the type and amount of chocolate they’ve eaten as this will help the vet know how much theobromine your dog has consumed and what amount of medication they’ll need to counteract it.

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If you get to the vet within two hours of your dog eating chocolate, your vet will most likely induce vomiting and give your dog active charcoal orally to reduce the absorption rate of the theobromine.

If it’s been longer than two hours, it’s too late to induce vomiting and instead, your dog will have to be treated intravenously with fluids and antiarrhythmic medication. 

Vet Peter Wright adds: “Milder symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting and diarrhoea, but in more severe cases, they can develop seizures, major heart problems and or even die.

“So, what should you do if your dog eats chocolate? You should contact your vet for advice and do it sooner rather than later before the toxin is absorbed into the body from the stomach.

Rhyl Journal: The amount and type of chocolate consumed by your dog is key in determining the potential damage it could causeThe amount and type of chocolate consumed by your dog is key in determining the potential damage it could cause (Image: Getty)

“The vet will give a powerful emetic to make them vomit the chocolate back up. If not seen quickly enough, your loyal companion may need to be admitted for more intensive supportive therapy.”

Which symptoms should you look out for?

Chocolate poisoning symptoms usually show in about six to 12 hours after consumption but it’s best not to wait for symptoms to show and instead seek immediate medical help.

Here are some symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs:

  • Hyperactivity
  • A high heart rate
  • A high temperature
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Drinking more than usual
  • Twitching 
  • Seizures

The Yorkshire Vet adds: “On the numerous occasions when I have had to administer the emetic, I have noticed that many of the offending chocolates are still in their wrappers! So, make sure to store your sweet treats well out of reach, as wrappers are not a deterrent to your furry friend.” 

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Can dogs recover after eating chocolate?

Generally, if dogs are treated by a trained professional they can make a full recovery especially if they’re seen before the chocolate has had the chance to absorb into their system.

This is why you should take extra care when chocolate is around, put it out of reach of your dog and get them immediate help if they eat any amount.

The experts add that while accidents do happen, steps like securing your bins and keeping chocolate stored high up will help reduce the risk of your dog finding it and eating it.