Chocolate poisonings in dogs increase over Christmas and Easter

Georgia Reed
December 22, 2017

Researchers from the University of Liverpool pored over cases of dogs who'd been exposed to chocolate, taken from more than 200 United Kingdom vet clinics between 2012 and 2017.

Dogs don't react well to certain chemicals in cocoa beans and eating chocolate can lead to vomiting, irregular heartbeat, signs of agitation or seizures.

While chocolate has always been recognized as a health risk for dogs, the researchers wanted to investigate if there were any seasonal patterns to exposure.

Looking at records from 229 United Kingdom veterinary practices between 2012 and 2017, the researchers discovered that Christmas is when dogs are most at risk, when they're four times as likely to go to the vet due to chocolate exposure than at other times of year.

That's even more unsafe than Chocolatebingefest, aka Easter, when man's best friend is twice as likely to fall victim to delicious chocolate.

Researchers in England analyzed over 1,700 cases of animal trips to the veterinarian in the United Kingdom between 2012 and 2017.

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Sources included chocolate Santa figurines, Advent calendars, Christmas tree decorations and cake.

In news that will surprise no one who's ever looked after a cheeky, thieving puppy, the data found dogs aged under four were more likely to make off with chocolate. Agitation and restlessness occurred, but were less common, only appearing in 12 cases, while seizures were not reported at all.

None of the cases seen by vets were considered to be life-threatening, researchers said.

The report also showed that younger dogs, under the age of 4, were at a greater risk than older dogs.

Warning: Dogs are more at risk for chocolate poisoning during the merriest time of year.

Scientists have a message for dog owners: Keep the chocolate away from that pooch this holiday season. The British researchers hope that their findings will raise awareness and help dog owners prepare by being more careful with what candies they leave unattended around the house. "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", he added.

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