Easter is on Sunday and many of us celebrate by passing out a basket full of Easter candy. If you have dogs you will want to put those baskets up where Fido can’t reach them. Chocolate is one of the most common causes of canine poisoning.  Any amount of chocolate can cause poisoning in our four legged family member. Dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate are the riskiest, with milk chocolate, and white chocolate posing a less serious risk.

 What makes it so poisonous to dogs?

The active ingredient in chocolate is Theobromine. While we may get a buzz from eating chocolate that lasts 20-40 minutes in the dog it lasts many hours.  After 17 hours, half of the theobromine eaten can still be in the dogs system. Even small amount of chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Chocolate eaten at toxic levels can cause hyperactivity, tremors, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, seizures, respiratory failure, and cardiac arrest.

How much is too much?

It depends on the type of chocolate ingested. The more theobromine the product contains the more poisonous it is. For example, unsweetened baker’s chocolate contains about 10 times more the milk chocolate and more than twice as much as semi –sweet chocolate. White chocolate contains very little theobromine while dark chocolate ingestion can pose the greatest risk.

What to do if your dog ingests chocolate?

Call your veterinarian. They will need to know your dog’s weight, the type of chocolate ingested, the amount ingested, and how long ago the ingestion occurred. They will be able to advise whether your dog has eaten a toxic dose and what treatment is necessary.

Enjoy your Easter and Easter Baskets just be sure to keep them out of the reach of your four legged family member.