Published: 13 Apr 2017 | Last Updated: 13 Apr 2017 22:01:38

As Easter approaches, we should all be reminded about the possibility of chocolate poisoning in dogs. Every year Royal Veterinary College (RVC) hospitals and vet practices around the UK see poorly pets that have plundered our beloved treats.

Chocolate ingestion is rarely fatal but it can result in significant illness. Chocolate is toxic for dogs because it contains a chemical called theobromine, as well as caffeine. Theobromine is the main toxin and is very similar to caffeine. Dogs can’t metabolise these chemicals in the same way humans do.

Signs of canine chocolate poisoning include a high heart rate, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle tremors and even seizures.

This can be a worrying and costly experience for owners but there are a few things that can significantly help when you call your vet or take them to the practice.

We will need to know the type of chocolate and the amount eaten. We also need to know how much your dog weighs. With this information we can calculate how much theobromine is likely to be ingested and the risks involved. It also helps us decide on which treatment is required, how aggressive treatment needs to be and how much monitoring is needed.

Please bring in the chocolate wrapper, if that hasn't been eaten as well as this often contains all the information we need. In one case last year, no wrapping was available but we were still able to phone the local baker for the recipe and this enabled us to calculate that the pet was a low risk and no treatment, just careful monitoring, was needed..

So, from all at the RVC have a Happy Easter and enjoy your chocolate eggs and bunnies - but keep them out of reach of you canine companions.

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