Culloden Veterinary Clinic








Chocolate is one of the most common poisons to affect dogs in the UK. Easter and Christmas are the riskiest times. 


The chemical in chocolate that gives humans a pleasant buzz – theobromine – has a highly toxic effect on dogs.


The problem arises because the symptoms which it produces mimic so many other things and don’t occur for at least 4 – 24 hours after ingestion. Typically, we see vomiting, including blood, excessive drinking, hyperactivity, inco-ordination and a racing heart. In severe cases these signs may progress to muscle rigidity, panting, fever, convulsions and heart arrhythmias, and even ultimately lead to kidney or heart failure.


The basic rule to follow is the more cocoa in the chocolate, the higher the levels of theobromine. Plain or dark chocolates contain more cocoa than milk chocolates and have 4.5-10x more theobromine in them. For a small dog a toxic dose could be as little as a small bar of dark chocolate, and some dogs are more sensitive than others.

There is no antidote for theobromine poisoning and treatment is necessary for any amount ingested.

If animals are taken to the vet shortly after eating the chocolate, there’s a good chance that drugs can be given to induce vomiting, emptying the stomach before the chocolate has had time to be absorbed. If treatment is delayed, and the poison has been absorbed into the dog’s bloodstream, there’s sometimes little that can be done to help.



Accidental poisonings from spills and leaks happen every year. Antifreeze has a smell and taste that is attractive to cats and dogs and when ingested can cause pain, distress and suffering which can lead to death.

As little as 1 tablespoon can result in severe acute kidney failure in dogs and 1 teaspoon fatal to cats.

The signs and symptoms of antifreeze poisoning are time dependant. Signs of antifreeze poisoning can show 30 minutes after ingestion, it can be 2-3 days before signs of kidney failure are seen.


Within the first 12 hours of consumption:

  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Increased water consumption
  • Stumbling/wobbling (appearing drunk)
  • Seizures

Within 72 hours:

  • Depression
  • Severe vomiting/diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Paralysis
  • Decreased motor function
  • Death

To keep your pet enviroment safe, keep antifreeze labelled, sealed and away from pets.  Ensure any spills from vehicles are cleaned up thoroughly and check water coolant leaks.  Don't allow dogs to drink from puddles.


If you suspect your pet has antifreeze poisoning, get them to the vet immediately!




This algae can be found in lochs, ponds, canals and reservoirs and can produce toxins which are lethal.  Sometimes contaminated water will have a neon-green like sheen or look like 'pea soup' and may give off a foul smell.  The algae blooms can also look like foam, scum or mats lying on top of the water.  Usually green or blue-green in colour, they may be blue, black, dark brown or red.  Algal concentrations vary throughout the year but are most abundant during periods of hot weather and are found to be in nutrient rich water.


Pets (or people) that swim or drink from the algae-contaminated water are at risk.  Only a few mouthfuls of water may result in fatal poisoning to the liver, followed by death.


Potential symptoms in dogs following exposure to blue-green algae:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Convultions
  • Blood in stool or black tarry stools






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