It’s that time of year again where the phone lines are jammed with the same enquiry and the reception is full of the same problem: “Mr Eatseverythingthatsnotnaileddown has snaffled a [insert Christmas treat/ornament/toy here]- is it a problem?”
So here are the things to look out for, and a guide to how much chocolate really is toxic.
Poisonous or dangerous:
- Chocolate and liquorice (common Christmas gifts)
- Raisins and sultanas (used in Christmas cake and mince pie recipes)
- Certain nuts (especially peanuts and Macadamia nuts)
- Xylitol-sweetened foods
- Other foods such as onions, avocados and grapes
- Plants including lilies (and daffodils)
- Cleaning and DIY products eg white spirit and lubricating oils
- Car anti-freeze
- Human medicines
- Turkey skin and bones
For a more complete explanation, the kennel club has an excellent guide.
Irritants but usually not poisonous:
- Blu-tack or other similar adhesives (used to put up decorations)
- Charcoal and coal
- Cut-flower and houseplant food
- Expended polystyrene foam (used for large present packing eg stereos/TVs)
- Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia (common Christmas plants/decorations)
- Wax candles and crayons
- Silica gel (found in packaging)
- Anything with Danny Dyer in it
THE BIG ONE- how much chocolate is safe?
The quick answer is don’t feed chocolate to dogs! It’s the theobromine in chocolate that’s toxic. In general 100-150mg/kg of theobromine is needed to cause a toxic reaction
- Milk chocolate contains 150mg theobromine per 100g – i.e. it’s poisonous at 100g per kg of dog
- Dark chocolate can contain 1500mg theobromine per 100g – i.e. it’s poisonous at 10g per kg of dog
So a 20kg Labrador needs around 2kg of milk chocolate to be poisoned, whereas only 50g of dark chocolate would poison a 5kg Yorkshire Terrier.
These are the minimum fatal doses- play it safe and ring the us if they’ve eaten more than 25% of the toxic dose i.e. more than 25g per kg milk chocolate, or 2.5g per kg dark chocolate