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Winter Poisons – Seasonal advice for your dog

Amy Holloway

The Veterinary Poisons Information Service states chocolate poisoning is one of the most common enquires received around Christmas time. The cocoa tree contains theobromine which is very toxic to dogs. The severity of poisoning depends on two things-the amount & type of chocolate  ingested.

Dark chocolate contains the highest amount of theobromine  so is the most toxic. The most obviously seen  symptoms from chocolate poisoning are vomiting & diarrhoea although effects can be far more severe. Contact our reception for advice immediately if your dog ingests chocolate . Chocolate is also toxic to other species for example cats, rodents & rabbits but toxic doses are not yet known.
Fruits of the Vitis Vinifera; grapes, raisins, currents & sultanas can, surprisingly cause renal failure in dogs. The toxic dose remains unknown, some dogs can develop renal failure after as little as a few grapes or a hand full of raisins.

Some dogs may initially develop vomiting & diarrhoea & develop renal failure from 24-72 hours after eating. Treatment is therefore recommended for any amount. Watch out for stolen Christmas cake, Christmas pudding & mince pies!

Other foods that can cause toxicity even when cooked are those of the Allium family (onions, garlic, leeks, chives etc.) Christmas foods to avoid are onion gravy & sage & onion stuffing!

Mouldy foods should be avoided as they can contain toxins that can cause rapid onset    tremors, vomiting, convolutions etc. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in many sweets, chewing gum etc can cause hypoglycaemia & liver failure in dogs.

Ivy can cause muscle twitching, paralysis, convulsions & even death in rabbits, however is not too toxic to other animals. The risk with holly is due to physical injury from the spines. as it is with Christmas trees.

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