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Pet Talk: A delicious danger for dogs

Wednesday 27 March 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Opinion, Pet Talk


Pet Talk: A delicious danger for dogs
Sonny with some dog-safe treats. SUPPLIED/24032601

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, stones, earrings, mango and peach seeds and corn cobs inside dogs, writes Dr Rose Hasegawa, medical director Te Are Manu Vet Clinic.

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 the dogs. That is why it is near the checkout in supermarkets the world over. It is sweet and creamy – I particularly like the Whittaker’s Coconut Slab chocolate. It is great as a snack and brilliant in many desserts. 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 will eat chocolate. Easter eggs come in all shapes and sizes, and in all types of chocolate – dark, milk and white. And they seem to be everywhere, so dogs can find them and indulge, just like us!

Unfortunately, chocolate is poisonous to dogs. More specifically a chemical in chocolate, theobromine, is poisonous to dogs. Theobromine is a chemical that is similar to caffeine, and when dogs eat too much, they will start to become unwell. 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.

When it comes to toxicity, not all chocolate is the same. White chocolate has almost no poison in it. The darker the chocolate, the more cocoa and the more theobromine. Larger 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. 

Chocolate also contains high amounts of animal and vegetable fat. These can present a problem for our dogs too. If a dog eats a lot of fat, it can cause a serious and painful condition called pancreatitis. White chocolate is usually the worst for this.

If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate or if you see them eating chocolate, don’t wait to see if they develop any signs of toxicity – call the vet. The sooner a dog is treated, the better chance they will recover.  It’s helpful to keep or take a picture of the packaging to give to the vet, and let them know when you think your dog was eating chocolate.

Many of us enjoy sharing food and snacks with our pet friends. Sharing food can be a great way to bond with your pet and often brings us great joy.

This Easter be sure to only share chocolates with your human friends and keep your fur friends safe!