Dogs more likely to get poisoned from chocolate during holidays, research finds

Researchers are warning that dogs are more likely to get sick from chocolate during the holidays. Getty Images

Dog owners are being reminded that chocolate can be harmful for their canine family members, just as the holiday season approaches.

The warning comes from British researchers, who found that risk of poisoning from chocolates spikes during the holiday season. They published the findings in a journal called Veterinary Record this week, explaining that dogs are four times more likely to fall sick from the sweet treats this time of the year.

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The study looked at data from 229 veterinary practices in the country, collecting information on when such cases were most likely between November 2012 and May 2017. It found that incidents increased most during Christmastime, then Easter — they didn’t spike much on other chocolate-heavy holidays such as Valentine’s Day or Halloween.

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While many dogs like the taste, chocolates contain a chemical called theobromine, which can be dangerous. In the cases cited by researchers, the culprits included chocolate bars, boxes of chocolates, cake, liqueurs, Santa Claus figurines, and Advent calendars — and often only a small amount was eaten.

The study reported that dogs who ingested chocolate saw symptoms such as vomiting, faster heart rates, and sometimes agitation and restlessness. In other cases, dogs can have seizures, and it can also be fatal. All breeds are adversely affected by chocolate, but younger dogs were more likely to chow down on the treats.

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The Royal Veterinary College at the University of London explained on its website that even when chocolate is wrapped, it shouldn’t be left unattended.

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“Even if it is wrapped and under a tree, dogs can sniff them out and will gladly help themselves,” it said.

The college noted that other Christmas treats, such as pudding, cake and mince pies can also be deadly for dogs. Raisins and grapes can cause kidney injuries or even failure.

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Other foods to keep away from pets include: Nuts, bones from meat, sweeteners, onions, and rock salt.

Pet owners whose dogs ingest chocolate, or any other harmful foods, should take them to the vet immediately.

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