Why dogs eating chocolate during Easter can be fatal

These are the signs to look out for.
Loading the player...

Easter is just around the corner, and while extra family time is welcome, the chocolate can be ‘fatal’ for your puppy.

Watch: How to keep your dog safe over Easter

Dr Cherlene Lee is a practising veterinarian with 15 years of experience as a veterinarian surgeon. She says dogs and chocolate don’t mix. “Even a small amount can be fatal.”

Can dogs eat chocolate?

Why is chocolate toxic to dogs? Dr Cherlene says, “Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine and also caffeine, which can be fatal to dogs.”

As well as chocolate, pet owners should watch out for raisins and Easter egg wrappers too.

“Some common hazards for dogs during Easter are chocolate and grapes/raisins. Chocolate is toxic to dogs because it contains a substance called theobromine and also caffeine, which can be fatal to dogs. Grapes, including raisins and sultanas (commonly found in hot cross buns), can cause kidney failure even in small amounts.” says Dr Cherlene, who is also a spokesperson for OPTIMUM.

“Easter egg wrappers can also be hazardous to pets! If ingested, this can cause blockages, often resulting in serious surgical interventions.”

dog at easter holding basket
(Credit: Getty)

My dog ate chocolate. What should I do?

If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, Dr Cherlene says “to keep a close eye on them to monitor for chocolate poisoning symptoms, like panting, restlessness, racing heart rate, vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive urination, and increased thirst.

“These signs depend on the amount of chocolate ingested, so if in doubt, head straight to your local veterinarian for treatment.”

If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, here’s what you must do.

  • Contact your veterinarian or a local emergency vet hospital immediately.
  • Provide details on the type and amount of chocolate consumed, if possible.
  • Monitor your pet for any symptoms of chocolate poisoning, such as vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, increased thirst and urination, racing heart rate, or panting.
  • Follow the advice and instructions the vet gives, which may include inducing vomiting, administering activated charcoal, or hospitalisation for treatment and monitoring.
dog with easter eggs
(Credit: Getty)

How much chocolate is toxic to a dog?

If you’re lucky enough to know what type of chocolate and how much your dog has eaten, there are chocolate toxicity calculators for pets (like this one) available online to work out how much theobromine and caffeine your pet has ingested. It can then tell you what symptoms to expect and whether an emergency vet visit is required.

According to the Annandale Animal Hospital, a toxic dose for theobromine is reported as 100-150 mg per kg body weight, but occasionally, problems are observed at doses as low as 20mg/kg. 

This roughly equates to around 60 grams of milk chocolate, which is the size of a Cadbury Boost chocolate bar.

What to do if your dog has eaten chocolate

Dogs eating chocolate is something vets see every Easter. 

“If your dog eats anything dangerous, it’s best to get advice from your vet or local emergency vet hospital or clinic,” says Dr Cherlene. “If you’re travelling or know your vet is closed for the break, do some quick research to find an emergency vet in your area.”

How to keep your dog safe over Easter

Dr Cherlene shares her top tips on how pet owners can follow to help keep their pets away from chocolate (and their local vet) this Easter. 

  • Store chocolate up high and out of reach of their pets.
  • Monitor little kids when eating chocolate around pets. 
  • Bring your dog inside while hiding and collecting eggs for an Easter hunt. 
  • Remember where you’ve hidden all your eggs and that none are left behind for your pup to eat. 

You might also like:

How to stop your dog tugging on the lead

How to stop a dog spinning

Dr Harry helps a kelpie who won’t let go of the ball

Related stories