We would like to remind everyone that Christmas is a time when we see a lot of cases of dogs and cats that have eaten things they shouldn’t have, requiring an emergency visit to the veterinary surgery.
This information should be used as guidance only — if you are at all in doubt or concerned, contact us at Kingsteignton Veterinary Group. It is always better for your dog or cat if treated early. It also helps us a lot if you can provide us with information from the box or wrapper of what, and how much, they may have eaten.
Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine which are both methylxanthine alkaloids. The amount of methylxanthine in each gram of cocoa can vary depending on growing conditions, cocoa bean sources and variety. Dogs can also be varied in their susceptibility to chocolate toxicity as this depends on a dog’s individual sensitivity.
It is important to know what type of chocolate your dog has eaten. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate or white chocolate. Dark chocolate is the most toxic, as it contains up to 50% cocoa solids, where only a small amount can affect dogs severely. Milk chocolate is moderately toxic, containing 35-50% cocoa solids and dogs can still present with problems even though it has lesser concentrations of cocoa solids. Please be aware that while white chocolate typically contains negligible amounts of theobromine, it may contain cocoa butter, sugar, butterfat and milk solids, all of which are bad for dogs and may cause a stomach upset.
Theobromine dose of 20 mg/kg causes stomach upset, while severe signs of palpitation and hyper-excitability occur at 40-50 mg/kg and seizures at 60 mg/kg.
The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (www.vpisglobal.com) recommend the following:
treat for > 3.5 g/kg for dark chocolate
treat for > 14 g/kg for milk chocolate
Grapes, Raisins, Currents and Sultanas
These can cause kidney failure in dogs and potentially in cats too. The toxic mechanism is not well understood. The amounts of grapes raisins currents and sultanas that can cause problems seems to be very varied. Some dogs that have eaten large amounts, have developed no effects, while others have gone into acute kidney failure after eating a small number of raisins or grapes. Even ingestion of cooked fruits in fruit cake (e.g. Christmas cake) or Christmas pudding can cause kidney failure.
Although tinsel is not toxic to dogs and cast. Puppies and kittens are fascinated by tinsel and many attempt to eat it. If tinsel is swallowed it can act as a linear foreign body and cause blockage in the bowel as it tends to concertina the gut. If you have a young kitten or puppy (and some curious older cats!), it may be best to do away with the tinsel on the Christmas tree or to have it high enough off the floor where they can’t reach it.