Despite Good Friday still being a few weeks away, reports of dogs falling unwell after stealing Easter eggs are already finding their way into the news.
According to the Kennel Club, insurance claims for chocolate-related poisoning incidents increase by 235 percent over a four week period around Easter. A recent study has also revealed that one in five dog owners were forced to rush their pet to the vet after raiding the chocolate stash over the Easter period. That's as many as 500,000 pets who required veterinary assistance over the Easter weekend!
Of course this can partly be explained by the huge amount of chocolate purchased in the run up to Easter, but an issue that's exacerbated by the fact that so many pet owners fail to understand the danger that chocolate poses to their furry friends.
Why is chocolate dangerous to dogs?
Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine that can't be metabolised - or broken down - by many domestic animals. Theobromine is therefore toxic to dogs and cats, and can damage your pet's heart, central nervous system, kidneys and other key organs.
Darker chocolate tends to contain more theobromine and the quantity that poses an immediate danger depends on the weight of the animal. That said, the wise approach is to prevent your pet from eating any chocolate at all.
Cats will usually leave sweet food alone unless coaxed to eat it, but many dogs have a sweet tooth and will actively seek out chocolate. Some will consume chocolate until it's all gone, which is part of the reason Easter can be a dangerous time, as large amounts of chocolate may be left in accessible locations around your home.
What are the symptoms of theobromine poisoning?
Symptoms of theobromine poisoning in animals include:
- elevated heartbeat;
- heavy breathing or panting;
- excessive thirst;
- frequent urination; and
What to do if your dog eats chocolate
If you suspect your dog has eaten a toxic amount of chocolate you should contact a vet immediately. Take note of the type and volume of chocolate you think has been consumed and share this with your vet, along with your dog's weight and the symptoms they are experiencing.
If your regular veterinary clinic is closed they may have an emergency number you can call, but don't be discouraged and give up - theobromine poisoning can be fatal even to larger breeds and it's important that you speak to a vet as soon as possible.
While it's relatively rare for theobromine poisoning to lead to death, it may still result in significant illness and costly vet bills, so prevention is certainly the best cure.
Non-chocolate Easter hazards
What with the risk of getting nailed to a cross, Easter has always been a bit of a hazardous time for some, but who knew it was so dangerous for dogs.
And it's not just chocolate you need to hide from your pooch. Both hot cross buns and simnel cake contain sultanas, currants and raisins, all of which can be fatal to dogs (and cats).
So be sure to keep your seasonal treats out of reach this Easter to avoid your pets mistaking them for their own treats.