Keep the Easter treats away from curious pets!

While we all enjoy our chocolate treats this Easter, it’s important to remember that chocolate can cause significant illness in dogs (and cats!). Although there are many foods we eat which will cause no ill-effects if our pets share them with us, chocolate is certainly not one of them.

Did you know?
There is a chemical within chocolate called theobromine which can be highly poisonous to some of our pets. Even though this chemical can be consumed safely by humans, our pets cannot metabolise it as well as us. The chemical can build up in their system, making them more sensitive to the adverse effects. Theobromine is similar to caffeine, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and even seizures if pets ingest it. In severe cases, and if treatment is not gained promptly, chocolate toxicity can be fatal.

Different types of chocolate will contain varying amounts of theobromine, but it’s safer to avoid allowing your pet to have access to any chocolate at all to avoid making your pet very sick. Generally, the darker and more bitter the chocolate is, the more toxins it will contain. Even white chocolate will contain small amounts of the toxin, and the fat and sugar in chocolate can cause digestive upsets and pancreatitis!

Depending upon the amount and type of chocolate ingested, the most common signs of poisoning in our pets is vomiting and diarrhea. Dogs can start to pant a great deal, become restless and have a higher than normal pulse rate. If a large amount of chocolate has been eaten (especially if it is dark chocolate), then pets can suffer from muscle tremors, seizures, and even heart failure. Older pets are at greater risk of suffering from cardiac arrest and death.

What to do if your pet has eaten chocolate
If you suspect that your pet has eaten chocolate, it’s best to contact your local veterinarian immediately. Your vet will be able to help you calculate whether the amount eaten is of concern and how to monitor your pet for symptoms of toxicity. If a toxic amount of chocolate has been ingested, then the earlier the treatment for your pet is commenced the better the prognosis. A trip to the vet is the best bet!

The best treatment for your pet is determined by your vet and will depend on the amount of chocolate, the type and when eaten. Treatment may start with your vet being able to induce vomiting and administer activated charcoal to try to avoid the theobromine being absorbed into the body. Supportive therapy such as intravenous fluid therapy may also be required, along with medications and close monitoring in the hospital.

Be sure to enjoy the chocolate Easter eggs yourself before any curious pets try to get to them and store them away safely, out of reach. 

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