Paws Off! Keep your pets from avoidable chocolate emergencies over lockdown Easter

We are advising pet owners to be extra careful and keep chocolate eggs and other sweet treats well out of reach of inquisitive pets to avoid an emergency trip to the vets over the Easter holidays. Our practice is following strict social distancing measures and have restricted services to emergency and urgent cases only to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

Chocolate can be very dangerous for dogs even in small quantities, and we often see a spike in chocolate toxicity cases over festive periods such as Easter. With pets spending more time indoors due to the lockdown, there is an increased risk of easy access to these treats.

Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical naturally found in cocoa beans. Dogs metabolise theobromine much more slowly than humans, so even a tiny amount of chocolate can result in toxic levels, especially for smaller dogs and puppies. Cats can also fall sick from eating chocolate, but they are much less inclined to sniff out and eat sweet treats than their canine counterparts.

Raisins and sultanas, found in hot cross buns and simnel cakes, can also be dangerous for dogs and cats if ingested.

Symptoms of chocolate toxicity

Whilst prevention is always better than cure, if your dog does consume chocolate then recognising the signs and promptly seeking veterinary care is vital.

Dogs will usually start showing signs of chocolate toxicity within 12 hours, but symptoms can last for up to three days. Initially, pets are likely to experience excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea and restlessness. These can develop into symptoms of hyperactivity, tremors, abnormal heart rate, hyperthermia and rapid breathing. Severe cases may result in fits and heartbeat irregularities, and even coma and death. If you notice these symptoms in your dog and suspect chocolate ingestion, seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.

For more information on pets and toxic substances, download the free Animal Welfare Foundation ‘Pets and Poisons’ leaflet.