Dogs are a significant member of any family and they often indirectly participate in the Christmas preparations with the rest of the family. Christmas is a holiday which includes receiving a lot of wonderful presents but also delicious treats among which is chocolate. Given that eating chocolate is strictly prohibited to dogs, it is advisable to watch out for the risk of chocolate poisoning in dogs during the Christmas holidays.
Researchers from the University of Liverpool are warning dog owners about the risks of chocolate poisoning, which can lead to many health problems and can be fatal. Some dog owners don’t know about this and they often reward their dogs with a chocolate dessert, or the dog finds an unwatched package and consumes it. The ingredient dangerous for dogs is a caffeine-like stimulant called theobromine which causes dogs to have an upset stomach, increased heartbeat, dehydration, seizures, and at the worst, death.
The new study conducted by the researchers from the University’s Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network has been published in the Vet Record. They used electronic health records from UK veterinary practices to study chocolate ingestion in dogs. The results unveiled that the most chocolate poisonings in dogs occurred during the festive season, and slightly less during Easter, when chocolate is easy to get.
In most cases, the results reveal that dogs didn’t consume excessive amounts of chocolate, but actually rather small amounts.
Veterinary researcher Dr. P-J. M. Noble, the study’s author said in a statement, “Dogs love a chocolate treat and at Christmas there are plenty about. Sadly, dogs can’t eat chocolate safely so many of them end up making an unplanned visit to the vet, which can disrupt the celebrations.”
“People should keep festive chocolates away from pets. If chocolate is consumed, owners should talk to their vet as soon as possible, and ideally be prepared to quantify the amount and type of chocolate consumed. Information on the chocolate packaging may help the vet take the best action. While many cases of chocolate-eating are not at toxic levels, where they are, it is better to see the vet quickly.”
In the research, they analyzed 380 cases of chocolate ingestion in dogs from 229 UK veterinary practices between 2013 and 2017. It unveiled the difference in how the seasonal chocolate consumption of UK cases stacked up against other countries. For example, peaks of chocolate poisoning in dogs were reported in the USA and Germany around Valentine’s Day and Halloween. On the other hand, such peaks haven’t been reported in the UK. The researchers suggest that this could be because of other festive priorities.
“Big data is allowing us to perform wide scale studies of issues like chocolate exposure. This will help us understand the influence of age, breed, season and geography on a wide range of different problems,” Dr. Noble added, and informed that chocolate poisoning in dogs was found less in older dogs compared to younger dogs. Also, it is not bound to a certain dog breed.