With Easter, just a couple of days away, French vets have issued a warning to all pet-owners to keep chocolate away from their animals because it is dangerous for them and can result in the death of the animal.
Vets say that chocolate is the fourth greatest cause of pet poisoning after paracetemol, ibuprofen and rat poison – and about 200g is enough to kill a 10kg dog.
The British Veterinary Association has said that last year 54% of British vets ended up treating pets for chocolate poisoning last Easter.
Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are the most toxic, especially to smaller dogs and puppies, as it contains theobromine, an ingredient naturally found in cocoa beans which dogs and other animals excrete much less effectively than humans. Meanwhile, although white chocolate is practically non-toxic as it contains little theobromine, it is still a very fatty product is difficult to digest, so is also not recommended.
The signs to look out for in dogs which usually show up within 12 hours are excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea and restlessness. These symptoms can develop into hyperactivity, tremors, abnormal heart rate, hyperthermia and rapid breathing.
Symptoms can last for up to 3 days and in the most severe cases, dogs can have fits and heartbeat irregularities which can cause the animal to go into a coma, or even result in the death of the animal.
The problem is particularly serious in France as dark chocolate makes up about half of chocolate bar sales and 30% of all purchases, with each person eating 6.6kg a year.