Vets are warning pet owners to make sure their beloved pets do not have so much as a nibble of chocolate this Easter.
“Because of their indiscriminate eating habits, Easter is one of the times we see a lot of dogs with chocolate intoxication. And other pets can be affected too.” said emergency care vet Dr Sarah Haldane from the University of Melbourne Vet Clinic and Hospital. “We encourage everyone to keep chocolate and baked goods containing chocolate out of reach of their pets”.
“In the clinic, we recently treated Max the dachshund for chocolate intoxication. He had an increased heart rate and was developing changes in his behaviour and mental state. He also had a long-standing problem with his heart, so we needed to be especially careful when treating him,” said Dr Haldane.
RSPCA Chief Veterinarian Dr Chris Thurgood says that the Easter period is one of the most dangerous for pets as people leave Easter Egg chocolate lying about and our beloved pets will take the opportunity to taste the chocolate.
Dr Thurgood said, “The system of dogs cannot tolerate one of the key ingredients in chocolate – theobromine.”
Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both methylzanthines that can cause stimulation of the nervous system, an increase in heart rate and tremors. The clinical signs are vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive urination, hyperactivity and increased thirst.
The chemicals in chocolate can also pass through the placenta and into the mother’s milk and affect pups.
“Take care this Easter and keep all chocolate out of your pet’s reach”, said Dr Thurgood
Chocolate tends to cause digestive upsets initially, as it is high in sugar and fat. Vomiting and diarrhoea are often the initial symptoms. Six to twelve hours later, the chemicals themselves start acting. They tend to have a diuretic effect, so the pet may urinate more than usual and become thirsty. Pets often become agitated and excitable and start pacing. More dangerous symptoms can then develop, including an elevated, sometimes irregular heart rate, blood pressure changes and epileptic-type seizures. These signs can last for up to three days if untreated, and can be fatal to the pet, with the heart or breathing giving out, especially with exercise. Any cases of suspected chocolate toxicity should be immediately reported to your vet. Prompt treatment will mean a much better prognosis.
Dr Haldane says if your dog is having a seizure, do not attempt to cause vomiting; take him or her to your veterinarian without delay. If the chocolate has just been consumed ring your vet for advice immediately.