Poor Pups: Chocolate Poisonings in Dogs Spike During Christmastime

The study, which focused on canine medical records over the last five years, found that chocolate poisoning was four times more likely on Christmas than on a non-holiday.

Both dogs and cats can quickly become poisoned by chocolate (Theobroma cacao), which contains a caffeine-like compound called theobromine. Even small amounts of chocolate can cause problems, including vomiting and diarrhea.

In all, the investigators found 386 cases from 375 dogs, meaning that some dogs had been taken to the vet for eating chocolate a few times.

New research suggests animals are four times more likely to get ill in the run-up to Christmas due to greater accessibility to chocolate.

No particular breed seems to be more vulnerable to chocolate poisoning.

Chocolate exposure was more than four times as likely to be recorded at Christmas and nearly twice as likely to be recorded at Easter than in non-festive periods.

This scene is set to be repeated up and down the country as Christmas gets started.

None of the cases seen by vets were considered to be life-threatening, researchers said.

An increase in hospital visits also occurs around Easter, with dogs snacking on Easter eggs and chocolate rabbits, yet no difference was observed for Valentine's Day and Halloween compared to other days of the year.

Advent calendars, Christmas tree decorations, Santa Claus figurines and gift box selections were among the confectionery items devoured by dogs on numerous occasions.

If you are anxious your dog may have eaten a toxic amount of chocolate, call your vet immediately and be prepared to describe the type of chocolate and the amount consumed.

When a vet receives a dog exposed to chocolate, the usual course of action is to administer vomiting-inducing medication to flush the chocolate out of the stomach. Supportive treatments such as intravenous fluid therapy to help stabilize the dog and promote theobromine excretion are also common.

Researchers from the University of Liverpool pored over cases of dogs who'd been exposed to chocolate, taken from more than 200 United Kingdom vet clinics between 2012 and 2017.

  • Santos West