Vets Now, the emergency vets with 34 clinics across the UK is urging dog owners to be mindful of the dangers of chocolate with Easter just around the corner.
Easter is synonymous with large amounts of chocolate, nicely wrapped up in the shiny, foil covered eggs, making it attractive not only to us humans, but also to dogs, and tempting though it is to share a little bit of chocolate with your pooch, even just a small piece of chocolate can be enough to kill a dog.
Chocolate is one of the most toxic substances to dogs as it contains a substance called theobromine, a naturally occurring stimulant found in the cocoa bean, which affects the central nervous system as well as the heart muscle. Although theobromine is not harmful to humans, dogs do not have digestive system to cope with the substance. If ingested, the theobromine passes from the stomach into the blood stream quickly causing an increased heart rate and muscle contractions which then progress into convulsions and fits. Consumption of chocolate can result in an extremely painful death for dogs, usually within 24 hours. As there is no known antidote to theobromide, Vets Now advises owners to seek urgent veterinary treatment if they suspect their dog has been enjoying an Easter treat.
The darker the chocolate, the more theobromide it contains and just 50g of chocolate can be enough to kill a small dog.
Glen McIntosh, a Senior Veterinary Surgeon at Vets Now comments; “Symptoms of chocolate toxicity will usually become obvious within six to twelve hours of eating the chocolate. The first signs are those of an upset stomach – vomiting, diahorrea, excessive thirst, drooling; however, symptoms may get progressively more dramatic and the dog will start having epileptic type fits. Owners should place Easter Eggs well out their dog’s reach; however, if they suspect their dog has sneaked an Easter treat then they should take it to a vet immediately. If caught early enough, the symptoms can be treated but sadly, many owners are not aware of the harmful effects of chocolate on dogs and we’re often presented with cases when it’s too late to save the dog.”
Vets Now will see a higher than normal number of chocolate poisoning cases over the Easter period, most of which can be avoided by owners taking simple precautions to minimise the chances of their dog coming in contact with Easter Eggs and other chocolates which are plentiful at this time of year.
If you suspect that your dog has come into contact with any of these objects and is displaying signs of feeling unwell, call your local veterinarian immediately.