Yes, it’s that time of the year again where little people all over the world get excited about the return of the Easter Bunny! Along with the anticipation of all the chocolatey goodness, there may be much discussion about how he arrives and where the special treats will be found and then where they will be hidden from siblings for safe-keeping! So what happens if that ‘sibling’ is rather hairy, walks around on four legs and is particularly good at finding those prized possessions? Is it that bad if he gets a little chomp of choccy?
What Is Chocolate Toxicity?
Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine which dogs and cats can not metabolise very well. Dogs are very keen to sniff out chocolate and if they have access to it, will guzzle it down. Adult cats are less likely to try eating it but kittens may give it a go. So why are theobromine and caffeine so bad for dogs and cats? Well they have effects on the central nervous system, the circulatory system, musculoskeletal system, gastrointestinal system and respiration – in a nutshell: widespread!
Here are some of the symptoms:
- Increased Body Temperature
- Muscle Spams or Tremors
- Rapid Heart Rate
- Difficulty Breathing
- Changes in Blood Pressure
- Cardiac Arrest and Death
The other important factor to remember about chocolate toxicity is that the darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of cocoa, theobromine and caffeine. So dark chocolate, baking chocolate and cocoa powder have a greater concentration of toxins and are more poisonous than milk chocolate or filled choccies. The other thing to keep in mind is that the smaller the dog, the smaller the dose of chocolate that will cause illness i.e. a Yorkie’s toxic dose is going to be substantially less than that for a Great Dane.
So What Do You Do If Scruff Climbs Into The Chocolate Stash?
- Get him away from it ASAP! Dogs often eat the wrapper and all, so be aware he may not have left too many tell-tale signs of foil lying around…
- Get him checked out by the vet ASAP! If it’s been eaten within the last 2 hours, the vet will probably induce vomiting to try to get as much out as possible. Keep your dog cool, calm and quiet until he is seen by the vet.
- If the vet is able to get your pet to vomit out a fair amount of chocolate, she may just ask you to keep him calm, quiet and cool for the rest of the day and ask you to observe for any other signs of toxicity. Sometimes clinical signs will only become apparent several hours later and the effects may last several days. She may also give your pet some activated charcoal to bind any remaining toxins in the gut and stop them from being absorbed.
- If your pet is already showing signs of toxicity, your vet will institute supportive treatments including putting your pet on a drip, giving him medications to control seizures and heart problems if necessary, activated charcoal and a bland diet.
It’s really important to prevent your pet from gaining access to chocolate and cocoa products. Make sure to collect ALL the eggs hidden by the Easter Bunny. Explaining to little children that ‘Choccies make doggies and kitties really sick’ sometimes helps prevent ‘sharing’ of treats with pets. Occasionally a really clever Easter Bunny will bring some liver treats for dogs and cats instead, so they get to join in the fun too!
If you have any further questions about chocolate toxicity or suspect your pet may have climbed into the chocolate box, give us a call on 0481 527 678.