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Julia’s Weekly Midsussex Times Column – Why Dogs and Chocolate Don’t Mix

Dogs and chocolate don’t mix.

Easter is a brilliant time of year. At last we can get outside, and there is all that chocolate to look forward to!

But for me this Easter is going to be harder. I recently discovered I am lactose intolerant, which means I am ill if I eat any milk-based items, which sadly includes chocolate.

Dogs are also made unwell when they eat chocolate, but it is not the milk derived lactose in it that upsets them, it’s a component of the cocoa plant called theobromine. But, just like me, dogs do love chocolate.

If you are planning an Easter egg hunt, or will be hiding a huge stash for the children when they arrive on Sunday, have a think about whether your canine best friend might get there first. They are way better at hide and seek with their noses than we are!

It seems that some dogs are less able to cope with theobromine than others, so if your pet has never stolen chocolate before we can’t know if he is going to be dangerously ill or barely affected. The dose seems to be important; a large dog is less at risk from a small amount of chocolate, whereas a toy breed might only eat a couple of mouthfuls to get a potentially fatal dose.

Dark chocolate contains significantly more poison to dogs than milk or white chocolate, so be especially sure to keep the good stuff out of the way.

Theobromine is quite slow acting in a dog’s system, so the chocolate thief may not show symptoms for a couple of days. Then they can become hyperactive and start quivering or fitting. Sadly they can experience heart and kidney problems, which can be fatal and require intensive veterinary care.

If you find your pet has nicked the Easter eggs, do not delay or wait until symptoms occur. A simple phone call allows us to calculate the risk from the type and amount of chocolate and the size of your dog. If there is sufficient reason, a quick trip down the vets for an injection to make him bring it all back is usually all it takes if you act at once.

To read about the Top 10 Toxic Substances go to our dedicated Dog Toxins page!

This Easter, don’t let your pets steal the eggs, and if you were thinking of bringing some chocolate for me, may I have a bottle of something instead?!

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