Heads up, all you dog mamas out there: Experts are warning that the risk of dog chocolate poisoning peaks around Christmastime. It's more crucial than ever for you to keep a sharp eye out to be sure your beloved pup doesn't accidentally eat the wrong kind of treats.
For the [Vet Record](https://www.eurekalert.org/pubreleases/2017-12/b-roc121817.php)_, researchers at the University of Liverpool analyzed records from 229 UK veterinary practices between 2012 and 2017 for consultations relating to chocolate exposure around Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day and Halloween. Chocolate exposure was more than four times as likely to be recorded at Christmas than non-holiday dates. Yikes!
The news itself isn't entirely surprising; after all, it seems like everyone has more chocolate lying around than usual on Christmas. However, it's a big wakeup call to pet parents to revisit their action plan on what to do if their dog eats chocolate and how to prevent them from doing so in the first place. If you don't have a plan yet, fear not. We did the hard work for you, and you can rest easy knowing you're prepared.
What to Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate
Chocolate has long been recognized as a common cause of intoxication in dogs, due to the theobromine — a stimulant similar to caffeine — that can cause vomiting, increased heart rate, agitation, and even seizures in our furry little friends. If your dog accidentally ingests chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately or call the Pet Poison Helpline (855-213-6680) for advice. Based on your dog's size and how much chocolate he or she ate, you may be asked to simply monitor it for symptoms of dog chocolate poisoning. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), these symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, increased urination, tremors, elevated or abnormal heart rate, seizures, and collapsing. In other cases, you may need to bring the animal straight to the clinic.
What to Do If Your Dog Gets Chocolate Poisoning on a Holiday
Now is a great time to check whether your veterinarian or a local animal hospital is open on Christmas — just in case any possible disaster should strike. The last thing you want is a dog chocolate poisoning crisis on a holiday with no clear plan about where you should go. The good news? The Pet Poison Helpline is a 24-hour animal poison control service available all throughout the United States. So even if the professional you usually go to for your pet is not available, it's comforting to know that there's at least someone looking out for your little buddy's well-being at all times.
How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Chocolate in the First Place
Ideally, you want to make sure your precious pooch doesn't get the paws in the sweet treats at all. The AKC suggests making sure all chocolate items are stored where dogs can't reach them. It's also worth reminding any young children or guests to keep their chocolate far away from the pup's reach. For future reference, teaching your dog the "Leave it!" command can be extraordinarily helpful for preventing them from eating anything they get close to — especially goodies that accidentally fall on the floor.
Let's be sure our dogs stick to dog treats only this holiday season!
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