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Chocolate Toxicity in Pets and Easter Hours

By Scott Lackenby | Dated April 8, 2020

Please be advised of our Easter Long weekend hours in case of any chocolate related (or general) emergencies:

10th April (Good Friday): Closed
11th April: 7:30am to 5pm
12th April (Easter Sunday): Closed
13th April (Easter Monday): Closed

When that chocolate cake sitting on the kitchen bench smells just so good, or the Easter eggs wrapped in foil have been ‘hidden’ around the house and yard, pets can’t help themselves. And once they start, it’s so difficult to stop!

As we all eagerly await the visit from the Easter Bunny, there are some of us who need to exercise restraint. No, we’re not talking about healthy humans. We’re talking about the four-legged (and winged) members of our family. Unfortunately, pets are just like us, and don’t always find it inside themselves to show self control when there is something delicious nearby.

The bitter seeds of the Cacao plant, which are used to make chocolate, are packed with theobromine and caffeine, both of which are highly toxic to our pets. Different types of chocolate contain varying concentrations of these toxic compounds, and baking chocolate, followed by semisweet and dark chocolate contain the most. Milk chocolate and chocolate cakes and biscuits tend to contain less of the toxic compounds.

Unfortunately for our pugs, cavoodles and other littlies, and certainly for our pocket pets such as rabbits and birds, they don’t need to eat much chocolate at all to be seriously ill. There is more of a safety margin for larger dogs such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers, however they do possess a remarkable ability for ‘inhaling’ delicious contraband items!

At its mildest, pets who eat chocolate may have abdominal pain, vomit and develop diarrhea secondary to the fat it contains. In some animals this triggers a painful episode of pancreatitis, which makes them very ill indeed.

The theobromine in chocolate is much more dangerous, however, and can trigger not only vomiting and diarrhea, but also stimulates the heart and nervous system to cause hyperactivity, muscle tremors, seizures, heart arrhythmias and death.

If you discover your pet has eaten chocolate, please phone your vet immediately to advise them of the amount and type of chocolate ingested. Your vet can use a ‘chocolate calculator’ to determine if a toxic dose was consumed. If it happened within the previous couple of hours, then your vet may be able to make them vomit to reduce absorption of the toxin. If your pet is showing signs of chocolate poisoning, such as twitching, restlessness, panting or seizures, phone your vet immediately and be prepared for them to stay in hospital. It can take up to four days for dogs to recover from chocolate toxicity, and unfortunately pets who are severely affected do not all pull through.

So, Happy Easter, but please take care of the non-human members of the family and keep all chocolate well out of reach (or eat it straight away)!

Joey helping himself to some chocolate that is very toxic to pets (NB he didn't actually eat any).

Joey helping himself to some chocolate that is very toxic to pets (NB he didn’t actually eat any).

Written by Scott Lackenby

Scott joined the team at Gordon Vets in 1999, where he was immediately impressed with the high standard of customer service. He became a partner in 2002 and that same year he gained an extra qualification when he became a member of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in Small Animal Medicine. Scott is very popular amongst clients for his kind hearted approach to pet care and his great sense of humour. His particular areas of interest are endocrinology and dermatology.

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Jayna Hirani
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Quality care and advice at every visit. The staff are friendly and informative and genuinely care about your pets. I am 100% confident that my cat and dog always receive the best pet healthcare and as pet parents that's all we want.
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Marianne Broeng
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Gordon Vet has looked after my golden retriever since she was 9 weeks. Everyone has been amazing and caring with lots of experience. I have been able to ask any questions and always been welcome. Even one day when she stepped on a bee in the evening, they stayed open until we got there and helped her get it out. Thanks to all the staff :-)
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Lizzie Wei
00:56 18 Jan 20
We just moved to Gordon couple month ago and need to get my cat vaccinated. We found this hospital through google and I need to say they provide excellent service and very professional! The doctor really knows cat. Highly recommended!
Lara Bisley
Lara Bisley
08:15 27 Nov 19
Exceptional veterinary hospital. I have been taking my dog here for many years and although I now live in the Eastern Suburbs, I still drive across town to see the Vets at Gordon. The staff are highly skilled, compassionate, friendly and helpful. My 9 year old dog has had 2 knee operations (1 on each knee!) and the outcome of these surgeries far exceeded my expectations. I have been incredibly impressed with the care provided during all of our visits. I would highly recommend Gordon Vet Hospital.
Eugenie Goodyer
Eugenie Goodyer
23:22 21 Oct 19
Very friendly staff. Wonderful care for all our animals A++
Jennie Keogh
Jennie Keogh
06:36 21 Oct 19
Fantastic and friendly staff who you can tell really care about your pet. Their follow up service is also very reassuring. I also board my cat with Gordon Vet and I feel very comfortable to know he's in safe and caring hands. I'm so glad I found this clinic.
Newsha Amiri
Newsha Amiri
20:24 03 Oct 19
We took our dog there and Dr. David take care of his skin issues. he was so caring and professional.
Luxe Sydney Mum
Luxe Sydney Mum
06:37 02 Sep 19
Compassionate, caring and highly skilled veterinary surgeons who treat their patients and owners with respect. The nursing and administration staff are efficient and remember their patients by name which is a lovely touch. A lovely vet practice which despite our Golden Retriever Finn’s complex medical history, is always welcoming to him and he never displays any signs of anxiety when attending. Dr Helen is lovely and a firm favourite of ours!
Lihong Xing
Lihong Xing
05:00 05 Nov 18
Highly recommend Dr David, Scott, Helen, and Catherine, I've taken my cat to see all the doctors here.
Jeremy Tarbox
Jeremy Tarbox
22:55 10 Sep 18
We found a stray, agitated dog in front of our house last night. We phoned but got no help from the Council ranger who gave two options: tie him up in front yard overnight or "let him loose, he'll find his own way home" :( So we phoned Gordon Vet: they stayed open a few minutes so we could run him up and he could have a bed and dinner. Thank you Gordon Vet Hospital, hope he gets home soon!!! :)
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Really amazing staff members. Their systems and processes are also very
Gerry Stevens
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Good competant vet. Did what I needed. Staff friendly. Cat's well.
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Absolutely love the service here. I switched from other Vets to this Vet as the staff here are quite attentive and really care about your furry baby! I have basically seen most of the Dr's here and all of them so far have been fantastic, friendly and fun to speak with! Easy to locate and enough parking available! 5 Stars indeed!
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