While Chocolate is bad for Dogs all year round, vets warn that Christmas is a particularly dangerous time for the family pooch. With all the chocolate Santas and other candy lying around at this festive time of year, dogs are reportedly four times more likely to become ill from consuming the delicious treat.

Veterinary study points to dangers of chocolate for dogs

CBS News reports that findings were recently published in the British journal Vet Record, showing hundreds of dogs have needed veterinary treatment after stealing some of that delicious chocolate laying around the home.

Some even got ill from sneaking a sip of that hot chocolate you left out for Santa.

Vets are now stressing the need to keep chocolate away from the family pet and saying it must not even be given to the pooch as a tiny tasty treat.

The BBC quotes Dr. Philip Moss of the University of Liverpool as saying the important message is to ensure dog owners realize that the tasty candy is a potential threat to their pet and stay vigilant with all chocolate gifts and treats during the holidays. Dr. Moss lectures in veterinary epidemiology at the university and stresses that should dogs get access to chocolate, owners should immediately contact their vet.

He added that it is important that a dog owner attempts to estimate just how much of the treat the dog has consumed and also the type of chocolate.

Chocolate causes toxic poisoning in dogs

The problem with chocolate is a chemical known as theobromine, which is found in cocoa beans. The dog’s digestion breaks down this chemical more slowly than humans, leading to increased heart rate, sickness, seizure, agitation and even death.

The most common symptom is vomiting, quickly followed by the animal becoming agitated and suffering an increased heart rate.

Scientists looked at the health records of dogs from around 10 percent of the U.K.’s veterinary practices for the period from 2012 through 2017 and analyzed the results.

In those 200 veterinary practices, it was discovered that chocolate intoxication happens four times more during the Christmas holidays than on any normal day of the year. However, the study did find that Easter tends to lead to twice the problem, with all those chocolate eggs and bunnies lying around.

The study also found that younger dogs are the more likely to steal chocolate and become ill, even when only small amounts of the treat were eaten. However, there was one exception, where a dog found and gobbled down a large quantity of Easter eggs, hiding in a yard for a children’s Easter egg hunt.

Treatment for chocolate poisoning varies, depending on how much time has passed since the dog snagged the treat. Normally pets receive medicine to bring on vomiting, along with being treated with activated charcoal to absorb the toxic chemical. Canines occasionally need further medication and fluid therapy to treat the toxic effects of chocolate on their hearts.

The answer to all dog owners is that old saying, “Better safe than sorry.” Keep those chocolate treats away from the family pet this holiday season and snaffle them all to yourself.