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Belfast dogs may have been deliberately fed dark chocolate

French bulldog against garden backdrop with PSNI badge in corner of picture
© Pixabay/ PSNI

Police Service Northern Ireland have issued an advisory notice to pet owners following a recent spate of seemingly deliberate attempts to poison dogs with chocolate.

By Nick Whittle, 6 May 2019

Last week (w/c 29/04/19) PSNI advised residents of the Antrim Road area of Belfast to be more vigilant after receiving reports from dog owners about their finding chunks of dark chocolate strewn across back gardens.

One dog even became unwell after eating an ‘unknown substance’.

No criminal motive suspected

Although playing down the notion of criminal intent a spokesperson for the PSNI wrote on the force's Facebook page: ‘We just want to remind you to be aware of what your dog might come across. We all know that dogs love a tasty snack but lots of substances and food stuffs can be poisonous to dogs and make them very sick, even chocolate can be deadly to them’.

Chocolate contains various chemicals, the most active of which is theobromine,

It is this chemical that gives vets cause for concern. It acts upon the body in the same way as caffeine, and too much of it can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea, tremors and fitting.Dark chocolate contains a high volume of theobromine.

The chocolate discovered in some of the back gardens of the Antrim Road was dark, sparking rumours of an attempt to poison local dogs. If a dog ingests a large enough quantity of this kind of chocolate it could die.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning of dogs

The symptoms of a toxic dose of theobromine are reported in dogs that have eaten the equivalent of just 20 mg of theobromine per kilo of body weight. Symptoms include agitation, hyperactivity, drooling, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

At doses of over 40 mg theobromine per kilo a dog may be observed with excessive panting, a racing heart rate, high blood pressure and heart arrhythmias.

Tremors, twitching, seizures and death can come from doses of more than 60 mg/kg.

If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate and is suffering side effects you should consult a vet immediately.