Your dog's risk of chocolate poisoning spikes during the holidays

NORTH RIDGEVILLE, OH (WOIO) - The holidays are the time of year when we feel a bit less guilty satisfying our sweet tooth, but for our furry friends, chocolate can be a nightmare.

"There's a product in chocolate called methylxanthines," said Animal Clinic Northview Dr. Derek Howell. "It is not metabolized well in the dogs and they can have problems with the heart and upset stomach and things like that."

On top of an upset stomach, symptoms can also include vomiting and diarrhea. Your dog may also be restless, agitated, or having a high heart rate, which means they need to see a vet right away, because it can get even worse.

"The most scary things would be things like having seizures or things like that or if they're convulsing," said Howell.

Chocolate can kill dogs. The good news is, even high doses can be treated, as long as pets get to the vet in time.

Howell also wants people to know that treats without chocolate can be dangerous for dogs, especially if artificial sweeteners are used.

"One concerning thing would be an artificial sweetener called Xylitol. Whether that's in baking sweeteners, or some people use it for coffee for sugar. That actually can cause severe signs in dogs as well," he said.

Xylitol can cause pancreatitis or damage your dog's liver.

The best advice, is to keep sweets out of their reach. Either put them on the counter or, if you have a big dog, close treats in a cabinet. They're small steps, that can go a long way to keep your pet healthy and safe.

After Christmas, Easter is the second most common holiday pets get into sweets and get sick.

Research shows younger dogs, under the age of 4, are at a greater risk than older dogs if they get into chocolate.

Different types of chocolate affect dogs differently. Cocoa, baking chocolate and dark chocolate are the worst for them, whereas milk chocolate and white chocolate have lower toxin levels.

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