As we brace ourselves and make plans for a fun filled easter weekend, let’s make sure a trip the veterinary emergency unit isn’t part of that plan. Easter poses many threats to our furry friends in the form of delicious but deadly treats including chocolate and raisins.
Easter means chocolate in any language. It has been this way since Cadbury made the first Easter eggs in 1875 (a little fun historical fact there for you, you’re welcome!). With all that chocolate floating around it is inevitable that at the Animal Emergency Service we are going to see our fair share of it coming right back up. Apologies if that is a bit graphic but this can save lives. The method of inducing vomiting in pets should only be attempted by professionals as some “google home methods” have proven to be fatal, and we have sadly witnessed this first hand. Consequently, we have decided to remind everyone why chocolate is so toxic, what signs dogs and cats will show if they have eaten it and what to do if your Chihuahua decides that your child’s 250g dark chocolate easter bunny has actually got their name on it.
So, which types are the worse and how much does my animal have to eat to be toxic? The toxic dose for each dog will very depending on their size and the type of chocolate eaten. Cooking chocolate and dark chocolates are by far the most toxic with as little as 5-10g causing a potentially severe reaction or even death in a small dog. Even baked goods made with cocoa powders or cocoa nibs can be very hazardous. White chocolate contains little to no theobromine or caffeine (the toxic components of most chocolates) so the chance of a toxic effect is much lower but the high sugar content can still be an issue causing gastrointestinal upset.
Chocolate contains the toxins caffeine and theobromine. These two compounds act together to cause the clinical signs that we see. At the mild end of the toxicity range we usually see vomiting and diarrhoea which can lead your pet becoming dehydrated and feeling down-right miserable. If they are slightly more affected we see more troubling signs such as increased heart rates, hyperactivity and hyperthermia. At the severe end of the toxicity spectrum, animals can present in a coma, with seizures or with heart arrhythmias that can be fatal.
If your animal ingests any type of chocolate the best thing to do is pick up the phone and call the nearest vet or bring them directly to your nearest emergency centre. We can calculate the toxicity level based on their weight, the type of chocolate and how much your pet has ingested and recommend the next best steps to ensure your animal is back home safely, as soon as possible.
Prevention is better than cure, so this Easter – please keep your tasty chocolate treats and other known toxic treats
out of your cheeky pets way and make this Easter holiday memorable for all the right reasons. Happy Easter from our AES family, to yours.