By Alex Haithwaite
MORE THAN 6,000 UK dogs are predicted to have suffered chocolate poisoning in 2016 – with an expected spike in December due to Christmas treats.
Reported cases have leapt by an estimated 25 per cent since 2015, according to figures from a pet insurance company.
Over a quarter of cases, 1,500, are expected in December – three times more than the average per month.
Michael Richards, a veterinarian for Chantry Vets at the Castleford Vet Centre, said: “I, personally, have had to deal with numerous cases of dog poisoning, while being a veterinarian and it does occur more around Christmas.
“In one case, a young West Highland Terrier, only around two years old, came in a very bad state and it was touch and go if it would survive the night.
“We managed to treat the dog and it has since made a full recovery.
“Dog owners need to keep a watch on their pet, especially on Christmas Day, because family and friends have a tendency to overshare their food to stop it going to waste.”
According to insurance provider AnimalsFriends.com, which commissioned the research, the average cost of treatment for chocolate poisoning in dogs is £297.
Westley Pearson, marketing director at AnimalsFriends gave a guide to typical symptoms: “When dogs consume a small amount of chocolate, symptoms include vomiting or diarrhoea, either immediately or over the few hours after ingestion.
“If a dog eats an excessive amount of chocolate, further symptoms could include a feeling of restlessness and a sense of increased energy followed by tremors, weakness and balance problems.
“It’s very important that you get your dog examined by a vet as soon as possible after eating chocolate.
“Symptoms such as seizures, muscle spasms and even comas can occur as a result of chocolate poisoning, so take every precaution you can.”
The effects of chocolate poisoning can be extremely dangerous to dogs, because chocolate contains theobromine, a stimulant which is similar to caffeine for humans, which is highly toxic to dogs.
A spokesperson for the Dogs Trust said: “Dogs Trust estimates that 50g of plain chocolate, equivalent to a small bag of M&M’s could be enough to kill a small dog, such as a Yorkshire Terrier, whilst just 400g could be enough to kill an average size dog.
“We urge people to make sure they keep treats well out of the reach of dogs and make sure children don’t share with their pets.”
Other items of food which cause threats of poisoning could include bones, Christmas cake and mince pies, nuts, pine needles and tinsel.