With Easter almost upon us, we thought it would be good to remind you of the dangers of sharing your Easter eggs and chocolates with your pets.
Many people are still unaware that chocolate is poisonous for all pets and can even cause death. It contains a stimulant called theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. Theobromine poisoning is a type of dose-dependent poisoning – this means that whether or not your pet shows signs depends on how much theobromine he/she is exposed to. Not all types of chocolate are created equally as far as the risk of causing poisoning is concerned. Cocoa powder, cooking chocolate and dark chocolate contain the highest proportions of theobromine, and therefore eating even a couple of squares is likely to make a small dog ill. Cats are even more susceptible to the effects of theobromine, but are less likely to be tempted by chocolate.
Your pet is likely to start showing signs within 24 hours of eating the chocolate but it is often much sooner than that and these signs could go on for two to three days. Common signs of chocolate poisoning to look out for include:
- Restlessness and hyperactivity
- Rapid breathing
- Muscle tension
- Lack of coordination
- In more severe cases, muscle tremors/twitches and even seizures (‘fitting’)
If you spot any of these symptoms in your pets and suspect that they may have got hold of any chocolate, contact your vet for advice straight away.
When you contact your vet it is important to try and give them as much information as possible. So for example how much chocolate or cake has gone missing and also what type of chocolate is it. Take the wrapper with you if you can, so that your vet can assess the likely level of theobromine exposure.
Your vet may make your dog vomit to clear the chocolate out of his/her body. There is no specific treatment and patients will receive supportive care based on how severely affected they are. This may include being admitted for a fluid drip into a vein, and for medications such as something to stop them vomiting or a sedative if they are very excitable. Your vet may also have to give your pet something to treat an abnormal heart rhythm. Finally your pet may need to be given some activated charcoal which is intended to mop up any chocolate left in the stomach or intestines. Not a pleasant process, and a potentially upsetting and expensive end to the Easter fun!
Many patients with chocolate poisoning make a full recovery as long as they can be supported for long enough. However chocolate poisoning can be very serious and regrettably is fatal in some cases.
Aside from any theobromine present, chocolates can also be harmful – potentially much more seriously – to dogs if they contain xylitol or currants/raisins. In many cases the pet will also have consumed some of the paper in which the chocolate may be wrapped; wrappers are usually of much less concern than the chocolate itself.
Of course, chocolate drops and chews that are formulated specially for pets are perfectly fine to treat those special dogs in your life with because they are not made from cacao beans and do not contain theobromine. You can find a selection in our online shop, including HERE and HERE. And the good news is that you don’t need to feel at all guilty when you keep your lovely chocolates to yourself!
Lilies may be more commonly found in the home around Easter time but can be very poisonous to CATS (not dogs) causing kidney damage regardless of how much is eaten and including all parts of the plant (flowers, pollen etc.). All cats that have eaten even a little bit of lily should be seen at your practice and receive treatment.
Please note: The Ralph Site is not affiliated with the third-party organisations in any of the links shared here, and the views, ideas and suggestions expressed in this and other blogs are simply shared with the intention of helping you, our friends, take care of the special animals in your lives.