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Chocolate – An Easter treat not to be shared

Wednesday 13 April 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Features

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Chocolate – An Easter treat not to be shared
Photo: SUPPLIED/19062013

Chocolate is poisonous to dogs mostly because of its theobromine content, explains Te Are Manu Vet Clinic’s medical director Michael Baer.

Dogs eat some funny things. Along with the more normal weird things like whole bones and baited fish hooks, I have seen sticks, kilograms of grass, ear tags, earrings, mango and peach seeds and corn cobs inside dogs. I am not sure I can speak for everyone, but none of this strikes me as being tasty. But there is one delicious thing dogs eat that they really shouldn’t, chocolate.

Chocolate is hard to resist, for me and for dogs. That is why it is near the checkout in supermarkets the world over. It is sweet and creamy. I particularly like dark chocolate. But milk chocolate and white chocolate are great substitutes. It is a great snack or a brilliant dessert. It even makes a good drink.  And of course, chocolate has a major role in celebrations – birthdays, Christmas and of course, Easter. 

Easter is the time of year when dogs eat chocolate. Easter eggs come in all shapes and sizes, and in all types of chocolate. And they seem to be everywhere so dogs can find them and scoff them down.

So what? A few dogs on a sugar high wouldn’t be a big problem. But chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Well more specifically a chemical in chocolate, theobromine, is poisonous to dogs. It is similar to caffeine, and when dogs eat too much, they start to have trouble. They shake and tremble, they may have a seizure (like an epileptic fit). They pant excessively, and may vomit or have diarrhoea. In severe cases they may die.

White chocolate has almost no poison in it. The darker the chocolate, the more cocoa, the more theobromine. Dogs do have to eat quite a bit, one small bar is unlikely to bother a 30kg dog, but three might make a puppy sick. Or one giant Easter egg. Or 17 cream eggs.

Chocolate also contains animal and sometimes vegetable fats and oils. These can present a problem for our furry friends. If a dog eats a lot of fat it can cause a serious and painful condition called pancreatitis. White chocolate is probably the worst for this.

When I was a child, we all ate our Easter eggs the day we got them. Except for my sister. She kept hers for months and would bring them out in September when we didn’t have any left. We would beg, plead and threaten, but she wouldn’t share. And because they were hers, appealing to mum and dad got us nowhere. This Easter, if your dog wants to share your chocolate, please think of my sister, and follow her example. Don’t share.