The Delicious Snack That Could Be Deadly For Your Pets
By Helen Burns | Dated February 29, 2016
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 become 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 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 Gordon Vet immediately to advise us of the amount and type of chocolate ingested. We can use a ‘chocolate calculator’ to determine if a toxic dose was consumed. If it happened within the previous couple of hours, then we will give them a medication to make them vomit to reduce absorption of the toxin. It’s not fun, but can be life-saving. If your pet is showing signs of chocolate poisoning, such as twitching, restlessness, panting or seizures, phone us 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)!