With Easter upon us, many families will be spending the bank holidays together and, as pet lovers, we want our four-legged friends to join in too. But there is also likely to be a hidden danger brought into our homes – chocolate.
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing explains: “Chocolate can come in different forms, whether that be in an Easter egg, chocolate buttons, bar or in a cake or hot cocoa drink, they can all make pets very ill and, in severe cases, can even be fatal. It’s vital to keep chocolate safely away from prying paws as it contains a chemical that can be highly toxic to pets.”
Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine which, although harmless to people, is poisonous to our four-legged friends.
She adds: “Vets often see pets in need of emergency treatment after eating chocolate, but even more likely at Easter and Christmas.”
Nina explains the signs and symptoms to look out for if you think your pet may have eaten chocolate.
Signs and symptoms
“The effects of chocolate poisoning can appear within four hours of eating, and can last as long as 24 hours.
“Signs your pet may have eaten chocolate can include excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea, a tender tummy and restlessness,” Nina adds. “These can then progress to tremors, an abnormal heart rhythm, raised body temperature and rapid breathing. In severe cases, chocolate poisoning in dogs can cause seizures kidney failure and even death. If you think your dog or cat may have eaten chocolate, it’s important to contact your vet straight away for advice.”
High quality dark chocolates and chocolate cakes, which often contain the highest content of cocoa solids, pose the biggest risk to pets. A small bar of dark chocolate could contain enough theobromine to fatally poison a small dog.
Other sweet treats to be wary of
Other popular Easter goodies such as raisins, commonly found in hot cross buns, are also poisonous to pets.
Nina said: “Owners should store chocolates and other potentially dangerous items in the same way as medicines when they have pets in their household – safely and securely. If you can’t resist giving your pet a little Easter treat, make sure it is something pet-friendly, suitable and safe. A new toy or a nice long walk is always be a good alternative too.”
PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity providing a vital service for pets across the UK whose owners struggle to afford treatment costs for their sick and injured pets. For many vulnerable pets, PDSA is there to help when there is nowhere else for their owners to turn. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk