BEWARE OF CHOCOLATE THIS EASTER
Easter is upon us, and at this time of year vets are kept busy treating dogs suffering acute illnesses, caused something we love to enjoy. Chocolate! It’s critically important to ensure chocolate stays off the dog’s menu, and take extra precautions to keep chocolate treats well out of reach of your precious canine friends. Children eating Easter eggs unsupervised near dogs is a recipe for disaster… and a large vet bill.
We humans love our chocolate and can eat it without any problems, but chocolate is highly toxic to dogs. It’s full of a compound called theobromine, which is absorbed into the bloodstream and causes cardiac, kidney and neurological dysfunction in dogs. In sufficient quantities – such as a small dog eating a large Easter egg, or a large dog getting into a family block of dark chocolate – chocolate can kill your dog.
The concentration of Theobromine in dark chocolate means toxicity is up to four times more severe in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate! Be super vigilant that you don’t leave blocks of dark chocolate lying around within reach of Fido.
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning
The consumption of chocolate causes symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting and hyperactivity, usually within 4 to 24 hours. Other symptoms include a racing heartbeat, muscle twitching/tremors, panting, excessive urination, seizures, coma and death.
What to do if your dog eats chocolate
- Induce vomiting (see below)
- Contact your vet immediately and describe the type and quantity of chocolate eaten, and keep chocolate wrappers so that your vet can see the ingredients
Treatment for chocolate poisoning
Chocolate ingestion causes significant stress on your dog’s system, but prompt intervention and treatment can prevent death – even in cases where a large amount of chocolate has been ingested. The sooner the chocolate is out of the dog’s system the better, so you must induce vomiting immediately. Use syrup of Ipecac, or administer a small handful of plain washing soda crystals into the dog’s mouth and hold it closed while he swallows them down. He should vomit the contents of his tummy within a few minutes. Once this has been achieved, get him to the vet immediately.
There’s no antidote to theobromine, so your vets will induce vomiting and monitor Fido closely for symptoms. They may need to flush out your dog’s stomach and feed activated charcoal to absorb any residual toxins. In severe cases, intravenous fluids will be given along with medication to treat muscle, heart, blood pressure and seizure symptoms.