Scientists have a message for dog owners: Keep the chocolate away from that pooch this holiday season.
Sweets - Candy, gum, toothpaste, baked goods, and some diet foods are sweetened with xylitol which causes more insulin to circulate through a dog's body. The Christmas celebration could create a health problem for your dogs. Of the 2.7 million case narratives from November 2012 through May 2017 reviewed for the study, 1,722 from 375 different dogs referred to chocolate.
A British study found a significant surge in chocolate poisoning in dogs over Christmas and to a lesser extent at Easter. Another was treated for poisoning after gulping down a hot chocolate drink, the study found. None of the symptoms were considered life threatening in any of these cases. As the chocolate contains both caffeine and theobromine they can cause elevated heart rate and blood pressure, and abnormal heart rhythms.
Advent calendars, Christmas tree decorations, Santa Claus figurines and gift box selections were among the confectionery items devoured by dogs.
Most will experience vomiting and diarrhoea but consumption of chocolate can result in death for dogs.
According to the report, dog poisonings were four times as common around Christmas and twice as common around Easter than periods outside of chocolatey holidays, the South Wales Argus notes.
Researchers from the University of Liverpool say dog owners need to be aware of the heightened risk and take extra steps to protect their four-legged friends. No particular breed was associated with an elevated risk.
Pet owners are told to call the vet immediately if their dog ingests chocolate - some affects won't appear until a few hours after consumption and catching it early helps the dog recover faster.
When a vet receives a dog exposed to chocolate, the usual course of action is to administer vomiting-inducing medication to flush the chocolate out of the stomach.
If you are anxious your dog may have eaten a toxic amount of chocolate, call your vet immediately and be prepared to describe the type of chocolate and the amount consumed.
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