Easter: What you should know about letting your dogs eat chocolate eggs

Chocolate can be fatal for dogs

Chelsea Ritschel
Thursday 01 April 2021 12:13 BST
What you should know about dogs and Easter chocolate
What you should know about dogs and Easter chocolate

Easter has arrived, which means chocolate eggs and bunnies aplenty.

And we’re far from solo in our chocolate indulgence, as Easter is the second-most-important candy-eating holiday, with more than 91 million chocolate bunnies sold each year in the US alone.

But as we indulge in the foil-wrapped goodies, it is important to remember our canine friends cannot - as chocolate has the potential to be life-threatening to dogs.

Dog-owners are warned to be on high alert around the holiday, as Easter-egg hunts and Easter baskets containing chocolate pose an increased threat for curious dogs looking for treats to snack on.

According to Pet Poison Helpline, calls during the week of Easter concerning dogs who have consumed chocolate increase by nearly 200 per cent.

Caroline Reay, Veterinary Surgeon at Blue Cross pet charity, told The Independent: “Sadly, we do see dogs and cats coming into our animal hospitals every year with chocolate-related illness, it’s one of the most common types of poisoning we see. Chocolate can be extremely toxic to cats and dogs and should never be fed to them."

Read more: Best Easter egg deals

This is everything you need to know about dogs eating chocolate and how to ensure your dog is safe this Easter.

Is all chocolate poisonous to dogs?

Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which can be poisonous to dogs and other animals because it cannot be broken down by their digestive systems.

However, certain types of chocolate are more toxic to dogs than others.

Typically, darker chocolate contains more theobromine and is subsequently more likely to be harmful to a dog, according to Dr Reay. Baking chocolate and cocoa powder pose the highest health risks.

According to The Kennel Club, white chocolate contains very little theobromine and is therefore unlikely to cause theobromine poisoning to dogs, however, it can still make your dog ill.

The weight of the dog and the amount of chocolate consumed also plays a part in the seriousness of the incident.

Although all dogs can get sick from eating chocolate, heavier dogs may experience lesser symptoms than smaller dogs from eating the same-size piece of chocolate.

According to the American Kennel Club, a “very concerning dose of chocolate is approximately one ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight”.

How can you tell if your dog has been poisoned from chocolate?

Symptoms of concern for dog-owners can be anything from vomiting and diarrhoea to rapid breathing and seizures.

Because chocolate is a stimulant, it can also cause excitement and muscle twitching, as well as an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

Chocolate can also be fatal for dogs, so if you notice your dog has consumed chocolate, you should seek help immediately.

What should you do if your dog eats chocolate?

The first step if you notice your dog is displaying any of the symptoms above or has eaten chocolate is to call your veterinarian.

"If you have seen your pet eat something that they shouldn’t, don’t wait for symptoms to appear. Call your vet immediately and ask for their advice," Dr Reay advises. You should also "write down the details of anything you think your pet has ingested, when they ate/drank it, how much they have swallowed, and what symptoms they have been experiencing."

Dependent on the size of your dog and the amount of chocolate consumed, your vet may suggest closely monitoring your pet.

If your dog is reacting badly to chocolate consumption, your vet may induce vomiting and give the dog activated charcoal to move the toxins out of the body. More serious measures such as medications or IV fluids may also be required.

To ensure your dog has a happy and healthy Easter, make sure that you keep all chocolate stored where your dog cannot reach.

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Also avoid giving your dog hot cross buns, as grapes, raisins currants and sultanas are all toxic to dogs, according to the Kennel Club.

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