Easter is just around the corner, and in many homes the Easter Bunny is busy hiding chocolate Easter eggs. However, if our pets find the Easter chocolates first, and eat them, they can get very sick.
It happens to thousands of pets every year.
Chocolate is dangerous to our pets, and in sufficient amounts can even kill them. This is because chocolates and cocoa products contain toxic compounds including theobromine and caffeine, which affect the Central Nervous System and the heart in canines and felines.
The risk depends on the size of the pet, the amount of chocolate eaten, and the type of chocolate eaten. The darker the chocolate is, the higher the level of theobromine and the greater the risk. A single block of dark chocolate could be fatal to a small dog, but a small amount of milk or white chocolate would be less dangerous.
Common signs of chocolate toxicity are vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, panting, tremors and twitching, seizures, an irregular heart rate, breathing difficulties and even death.
These can occur within 6-12 hours of eating the chocolate.
If you suspect your pet has been eating chocolates, please contact your vet as soon as possible. The earlier we can treat the better, since in some cases, ingested chocolate hasn’t passed the stomach yet. In these cases, we may be able to induce vomiting. Early supportive veterinary treatment can improve chances of full recovery greatly.
Tips to help prevent chocolate toxicity:
- Keep all chocolate out of reach of pets. Remember they have an excellent sense of smell and will find hidden chocolate treasures easily.
- If your pooch has a sweet tooth, look for dog treats with carob (a chocolate alternative with no theobromine or caffeine).
Have a lovely Easter!
— Jackie and the team at Cronulla Veterinary Clinic