Our vet Hamish returned home yesterday lunchtime to find a mass of gold foil wrappers littered over the kitchen floor and two very guilty looking dogs. Even though he thought the gold chocolate coins bought for his daughter’s birthday party were well out of reach, the dogs had somehow managed to pull the bag with the chocolate bundles off the top of the dresser and the dogs had devoured the lot.
Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine (from the Theobrama cacao plant) which is toxic to dogs. And the higher the cocoa content, the more toxic the chocolate with dark chocolate being most dangerous.
The onset of clinical effects can take place anywhere between 4 and 24 hours after eating.
Common signs that dogs have eaten a significant quantity of chocolate may include vomiting, a tender abdomen, a high heart rate, drooling, excitability and being unsteady on their feet. If larger quantities are ingested, dogs may start fitting, can become hyperthermic, have an unsteady heart rate, have trouble breathing and their kidneys can be affected. In worst cases, chocolate poisoning can lead to death.
Fortunately, Hamish brought his dogs straight to the practice and administered medication to make them sick. They have shown no adverse effects, and were hungry for their biscuits by teatime!
Please do be mindful that even if you think you’ve placed chocolate well out of reach, a dog’s determination can prove you wrong!