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Heightened risk of canine chocolate exposure at Christmas and Easter
  1. Peter-John M Noble1,
  2. Jenny Newman2,
  3. Alison M Wyatt3,
  4. Alan D Radford4 and
  5. Philip H Jones2
  1. 1 Small Animal Teaching Hospital, University of Liverpool, Institute of Veterinary Science, Neston, UK
  2. 2 Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, University of Liverpool, Institute of Infection and Global Health, Neston, UK
  3. 3 University of Liverpool, Institute of Veterinary Science, Neston, UK
  4. 4 Department of Infection Biology, University of Liverpool, Institute of Infection and Global Health, Neston, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence; P.H.Jones{at}liverpool.ac.uk

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Chocolate has long been recognised as, and remains, a common cause of intoxication in dogs accounting for 25 per cent of acute presentations for intoxication.1 2 Case numbers in Europe and the UK have been reviewed, mostly based on reports to poisons centres.3–6 Chocolate toxicity results from the methylxanthine theobromine present in cocoa bean products, causing gastrointestinal (eg, vomiting), cardiovascular (eg, tachycardia) and central nervous (eg, agitation and seizure) signs.7 Chocolate intoxication is mostly seen in dogs6 8 and theobromine dose calculations based on the source of chocolate are well documented7 9 and available online. 10 11 The current study reviews cases of chocolate exposure presented to a large sentinel network of UK veterinary practices between 2012 and 2017.

Electronic health records were collected from 229 UK veterinary practices (500 premises) by the Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET).12 Records included the consultation time, species, breed, sex and clinical free text (narrative) in which inadvertent personal identifying data contained in narratives had been redacted using deidentification software (Newman). Narratives were screened using a regular expression13 to identify the presence of the word ‘chocolate’, including a range of misspellings and contractions (eg, ‘choc’, ‘choclat’). Cases were tagged for study inclusion if on reading they matched a definition of potential chocolate exposure whereby ingestion triggered …

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