Owners warned over Christmas chocolate danger to dogs

IT’S predicted Brits will gorge on more than £160 million worth of chocolate treats in the run up to Christmas. But that’s only if their dogs don’t get to them first.

Emergency vets see a massive rise in chocolate poisoning during the festive season — with cases in some clinics going up by more than 300%.

Tess the black Labrador retriever is the perfect example of why dog owners should always keep chocolate well out of reach. She ended up on an IV drip at Vets Now’s 24/7 pet emergency hospital in Glasgow after gorging on a bin bag full of sweet treats.

What to do if your dog's eaten chocolate

'Tess will eat anything. She'd probably do the same thing again'

Tess’s owner, Douglas Thompson, of Stonehouse, Lanarkshire, said the seven-year-old carried out the midnight raid just after he’d gone to bed.

Her haul included 100g of white chocolate, 20g of milk chocolate, four cocoa orange bars and chocolate drinking powder — all of which were uneaten Christmas presents put aside by Douglas’s son.

Mr Thompson said: “The bag was tied up and in a part of the house Tess isn’t meant to access. However, in the period between myself and my wife going to bed and my son coming home, she somehow managed to get to it.

“My son woke us up, so we took Tess straight to Vets Now meaning she received treatment within a few hours of eating. Tess will eat anything. In fact, given half a chance she’d probably do the same thing again. Thankfully, she’s fine now.”

Christmas is one of Vets Now’s busiest periods with a 40% rise in emergency calls to its out-of-hours clinics and 24/7 hospitals.

Vet surgeon Ana-Maria Rotariu was part of the team — at the Vets Now 24/7 pet emergency hospital in Glasgow — who treated Tess.

She said: “We see a big increase in chocolate exposure cases at Christmas. Tess’s case was quite exceptional due to the amount she’d consumed.

“Thankfully, her owners brought her straight to the hospital, which meant we were able to take action very quickly. After two nights of fluids, medication and close monitoring, she went home feeling fine.”


Other foods that are dangerous to dogs

Dozens of human foods are dangerous for dogs, with the most common being chocolate, corn on the cob and grapes and raisins.

Others include alcohol, caffeine, onions, garlic, milk and anything high in salt or fat.

Dog owners should also avoid feeding their dogs macadamia nuts or black walnuts, as both can cause problems.

However, unsalted cashew nuts, walnuts and peanuts are acceptable as long as they’re eaten in small doses.

Dogs of any age, breed or gender can be affected by food poisoning.

Image of Christmas chocolate for Vets Now article on dangers of chocolate to dogs
Hanging tree ornaments like these are dangerous to dogs

How much chocolate could poison your pet?

Vet urges owners to call for help straight away

Owners who suspect their pet has eaten something toxic should not wait for signs or symptoms to appear before they contact a vet.

Instead, they should telephone their vet immediately or, out of hours, their nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic.

Vet Ana-Maria added: “If a dog eats something toxic symptoms normally start showing within four and 24 hours. But these may not take effect for several days and in the most serious cases can also cause sudden kidney failure. As long as it’s treated early and there’s been no kidney damage the prognosis for chocolate toxicity is generally good.”

The Vets Now pet emergency hospital in Glasgow — where Tess received treatment — is regarded as one of the finest facilities of its kind in the UK.

It’s one of three Vets Now hospitals across the UK that are open 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.