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Pet poisons & toxins pt 8: Chocolate

Wow – we are into our Top 3 now!  The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS)* have received approximately 8,645 enquiries to date relating to poisoning resulting from the ingestion of Chocolate – the 3rd most common poisoning reported to them.  The number of chocolate poisoning cases is more than double that of Paracetamol which is the 4th most reported poisoning cause.

Chocolate contains theobromine which is a chemical similar to caffeine – and many animals, but particularly dogs, are sensitive to this.  The amount of theobromine in chocolate varies depending on its type and quality with rich, dark chocolate containing the highest levels.
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include agitation, tremors, hyper-excitability, convulsions, increased urine production, diarrhoea, vomiting, lethargy / depression and problems with the heart.  In some cases dogs have even been known to die following chocolate ingestion.  If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate and is displaying any of these symptoms please contact your vet for advice and take any packaging left along with you.

Less serious problems resulting from feeding your pet small quantities of chocolate include weight gain and tooth decay. The best advice is not to give your pet any chocolate – they won’t know what they are missing then!  Ask your vet about healthy treats which will last longer and, in some cases, may even help keep your pet’s teeth clean.  My Mum-in-Law’s Labrador would love a bar of Cadburys I am sure (or indeed anything else he could get his paws on), but is more than happy chewing on a carrot for a bit.

* The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) is an internationally renowned poisons information service which provides the veterinary profession with 24 hour support and advice on the diagnosis and management of poisoned animals.  They advise on approximately 25,000 cases in total per year.  For more information about the VPIS please click here to visit the VPIS website.  If you suspect your pet may have been poisoned, come into contact with any kind of toxin or otherwise appears unwell please contact your Vet in the first instance.

COMING UP IN PART 9:  We take a look at Number 2 on the VPIS’s common poisons list – Rodent poision.

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