Paws off the sweet treats this World Chocolate Day

Many of us might be enjoying a treat to celebrate World Chocolate Day (7 July) this year, but our furry friends definitely shouldn’t be joining in.

Vet charity PDSA is warning pet owners about the dangers of chocolate after a seven-month-old German Shepherd, Narla needed life-saving treatment after she ate 500g of chocolate and raisins.

PDSA Vet Lynne James said: “As delicious as it might be for us, eating chocolate can be extremely dangerous, and even fatal, for cats and dogs. Though we might leave chocolate treats lying around the house, or receive them through our letter boxes as gifts – chocolate should always be kept well out of reach from tempted paws and claws.

Why is it so harmful?

Lynne adds: “Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is toxic to pets. It’s found in all types of real chocolate, but particularly high quantities are found in dark chocolate, cocoa powder and cocoa beans. Even white chocolate contains theobromine although in much lower concentrations – but it also contains high levels of sugar and fat, which means it’s still not safe to be gobbled up by our precious pets!

Prevention is key

“You should never feed chocolate to your pets – make this a golden rule in your household, especially for those who just can’t resist the temptation of giving away a treat. This can be especially hard for young children to understand, so try to avoid giving them any sweet treats around pets and pick up any lingering pieces that could be sniffed out,” explains Lynne.

“Ideally, store your chocolate in high or locked cupboards safely away from pets and take extra care when you’re indulging too. Though it might be a lovely surprise to receive an edible gift through the post, it’s a good idea to use a letterbox cage, to catch any chocolate treats and prevent your furry friend getting their eager paws on them.

What to do in case of chocolate poisoning

“The severity of chocolate poisoning depends on your pet’s size, how much and what type of chocolate they ate, and when it was eaten. Early signs to look out for include diarrhea, vomiting, drinking or urinating a lot, and restlessness. If you think your pet may have eaten chocolate, always call your vet right away; if you’re able to get to a clinic in good time, your vet can give them an injection to make them sick, removing the chocolate from their system before it is absorbed. The classic charcoal meal from the vet will also help to absorb any toxins remaining in the gut.

“Another treatment, depending on your pet’s condition, may be a fluid drip to support their vital organs while their body flushes out any toxins absorbed. Most pets make a full recovery, but treatments can cost hundreds of pounds – a very expensive sweet treat!”

Narla’s owners are grateful to PDSA vets who provided emergency treatment and she is making a brilliant recover.