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Keep Dogs Away From Chocolate This Christmas, Vets Warn

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During the Christmas season, dogs are prone to chocolate poisoning, vets say. Canines are four times more likely to get sick from eating chocolate this time of the year.

A study found that hundreds of dogs needed veterinary treatment after snaffling chocolate Santas, chocolate oranges, selection boxes and even hot chocolate, the BBC reports. Vets are trying to warn pet owners that chocolates and other sweets should be kept out of reach of animals at home.

While dogs apparently like chocolate, the confectionery can make them ill, even in small amounts. Dr. Philip Jones, lecturer in veterinary epidemiology and public health at the University of Liverpool, said,

The take home message is firstly to make sure that people recognize that chocolate is a potential problem and to be vigilant with their chocolate gifts over the holiday period.

Jones added, “If their dog does get access…to make sure that they contact their veterinary surgeon. And also before they contact their veterinary surgeon to have an estimate of how much chocolate and what type of chocolate the dog has eaten.”

The substance theobromine present in cocoa beans breaks down more slowly in a dog’s digestive system, leading to sickness, agitation, increased heart rate, seizures and at the worst, death.

Pet health records from 200 veterinary practices from 2012 to 2017 in the United Kingdom were analyzed for this study. Researchers found that chocolate intoxication was four times more likely to occur at Christmas compared to normal days. The risk was half that for Easter, but there were no heightened risks for Valentine’s Day or Halloween.

The most common symptom of chocolate poisoning was vomiting, followed by agitation and faster heart rates. Treatment depends of how much time has passed since the dog consumed chocolate, and may include induced vomiting, activated charcoal, fluid therapy and medications to combat the txoc effects.

The study was published in Veterinary Record.


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