Easter is the perfect time of year to highlight the fact that the chocolate treats we enjoy so much are actually poisonous if shared with our furry friends.
The danger with chocolate is that animals such as dogs, cats, parrots and horses can’t effectively metabolise the chocolate chemical known as alkaloid theobromine.
This chemical can remain in an animal’s bloodstream for many hours and can lead to hyperactivity and excessive urination. It can even be fatal if not detected and treated.
Dr Justin Silcock of Greencross Vets’ Forest Lake Village clinic in Brisbane recently experienced first hand the dangerous mix of dogs and chocolate eggs.
“A woman discovered her dog eating a packet of chocolate-coated almond Easter eggs – and what made it worse was that it was dark chocolate which contains far more chocolate solids than milk chocolate,” Dr Silcock said.
“Luckily, the dog’s owner brought it down to our clinic straight away to be checked.
“While the dog was fairly bright, we decided to administer apomorphine to it which induces vomiting.
“It wasn’t long before the dog was vomiting up several pools of chocolate.”
Unpleasant and uncomfortable as this vomiting was for the dog, Dr Silcock said if it hadn’t vomited up the chocolate than the end result could have been a lot worse.
“It’s important owners are educated about the dangers of dogs eating chocolate, especially at Easter when there is more chocolate around the house,” he said.
“It only takes one gram of dark or baking chocolate per kilogram of your dog’s weight for the chocolate to reach toxic levels.”
With pets now such important members of our family, it is only natural that they may often be fed the same things we eat. However, some foods which are completely harmless to humans can cause severe problems in our pets. Pet owners should be particularly vigilant at Easter to ensure their special friends don’t eat chocolate or that children don’t offer this potentially dangerous food to them.
Some symptoms of poisoning might not become evident for several hours so it is important to seek immediate treatment for any animal who you suspect has ingested chocolate.
One small Easter egg is unlikely to cause problems for a healthy dog but giving any amount of chocolate to our pets is not worth the risk.
Other foods poisonous to animals
- Onions and garlic – contain thiosulphate which can cause anemia in dogs and can then lead to the breakdown of red blood cells
- Macadamia nuts – causes muscle weakness in dogs
- Raisins and grapes – causes kidney and liver problems
- Avocados – cause problems in some dog breeds