Why Chocolate is Bad for Dogs: What You Need To Know

08 April 2022

Easter is a fun (and delicious!) holiday for you and your human family but there are some things you need to be aware of to keep your dog safe over the Easter period. Let’s face it, Easter is all about the chocolate but unfortunately, this is not something you can share with your dog.

Chocolate can be extremely dangerous for dogs and even the smallest piece can lead to poisoning, causing serious health issues and in some cases, may even prove fatal. So even though it may be tempting to share your Easter eggs and chocolatey treats with your furry friend, it’s important to make sure there is absolutely no chocolate left around for your pets to find.

Why is chocolate toxic for dogs?

The chemical Theobromine found in chocolate, as well as caffeine, are toxic to dogs. Theobromine is a natural substance found in a large number of foods and beverages. It is a bitter alkaloid found in the seeds of several plants, including the coffee plant and the tea plant. Theobromine increases the activity of the nervous system and muscles and causes a rush of excitement and energy.

Theobromine is safe for people, but it can be dangerous for dogs because their bodies are not equipped to handle it. Dogs are much more sensitive to the effects of the Theobromine in chocolate than people are. Even a small amount of theobromine can be harmful to dogs, causing a rapid release of energy, a rapid heartbeat, panting, excitement and anxiety. If your dog ingests chocolate, you’ll likely see some of these effects in them within 15 minutes.

Health effects of chocolate on dogs

Dogs will often have symptoms of chocolate toxicity such as vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, increased thirst and urination, increased bowel movement, irregular heart rate and seizures.

One of the most dangerous effects of chocolate on dogs is the increase in heart rate. When the heart beats too quickly, it can lead to a condition called tachycardia. This can be life-threatening because it increases the blood flow and puts an increased workload on the heart. A dog’s body does not produce a sufficient number of natural compounds to counteract these compounds found in chocolate, which could lead to hypothermia and hyperactivity.

Additionally, chocolate contains caffeine and other stimulants that can cause vomiting and diarrhea. If your dog ingests enough chocolate, it can also lead to seizures. These seizures are most likely going to happen within 2 hours of ingestion.

What to do if your dog has eaten chocolate

If your dog does decide to help themselves to your Easter treats or if you suspect they have consumed chocolate, contact your veterinarian immediately. The vet may need to induce vomiting or use gastric lavage (inserting a tube down their throat to wash out the stomach). This will help prevent Theobromine from being absorbed into your pup’s system. Do not try to induce vomiting yourself as this can be dangerous for both humans and dogs.

Be aware of the signs and symptoms of toxic reactions and poisoning and make sure that you have your vets’ number and poison info (13 11 26) stored in your phone.

Alternatives to chocolate for dogs

If you want to treat your dog over the Easter holidays, there are many safe and delicious alternatives to chocolate. Carob is a dog safe chocolate substitute and is non-toxic to dogs as it does not contain Theobromine or caffeine. Carob is rich in fibre and contains a variety of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, making it a much healthier option for your dog.

Of course, you can always treat your dog with their usual favourite dog treats and snacks – as long as they don’t feel they are missing out when you and your family are enjoying your yummy chocolate treats, they will be happy!

Have a safe and happy Easter from all the team @ Paddington Pups!

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