What to do if your dog eats chocolate this Easter

It’s no secret that chocolate is toxic to pets, and with Easter egg hunts taking place and an increased amount of chocolate in the house, it’s important to keep an eye out for your furry friend.

To help pet parents prevent and recognise the symptoms of chocolate toxicity in pets this Easter, PETstock VET Dr Katherine Macmillan has compiled her top tips to keep pets safe and avoid unwanted visits to the vet.  

Why is chocolate toxic to dogs?  

The main ingredient that causes problems,  theobromine, is found in the cocoa beans that are used to make chocolate. Like caffeine, dogs  cannot metabolise theobromine as well as people are able to and this can lead to a range of  problems, including death in the worst-case scenario. 

The level of toxicity depends on the cocoa content of the chocolate that is eaten – baking  chocolate presents the biggest risk. Dark chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate while  white chocolate is the least likely to cause problems. Online chocolate toxicity calculators are  available that provide a rough guide on what amounts of chocolate are potentially dangerous for  dogs of different sizes. 

Symptoms of chocolate toxicity  

Symptoms of chocolate toxicity in pets include:  

• Vomiting 

• Diarrhoea 

• Excessive thirst or urination 

• Restlessness and agitation 

• Bloated abdomen 

• Twitching and stiffness 

• Seizures 

• Elevated temperature  

• Elevated heart rate 

Signs can develop between two and 12 hours after the chocolate is eaten. If your dog is unwell, you should seek urgent veterinary attention.  

Even better, if you are aware that your dog has eaten a significant quantity of chocolate take  them to a vet before they show any signs of being unwell. The vet will induce emesis (make your  dog vomit) which will stop the toxin from being absorbed. 

How to prevent chocolate toxicity  

  • Storage: to prevent the risk of your pet being poisoned by chocolate at Easter, store all  Easter eggs in a high place and out of reach of even the most clever canine. Dogs have a  strong sense of smell – what may be well hidden for a child will not work with a dog and  their super-sensitive nose. 
  • Creating a safe Easter egg hunt: place your dog in a separate room or area while you set  up and carry out the Easter egg hunt. If possible, create a map that includes information  on where you have placed the eggs just in case some are missed by the hunters!
  • Wrapping: after the Easter egg hunt, make sure that no foil or wrapping from the  chocolate is left behind. The remnants of the chocolate will make them extremely enticing  to dogs, and if ingested, the wrapping will be difficult for dogs to digest. 
  • Supervise children: Young children can be naturally generous and may try to share their  Easter chocolate with the dog who will be unlikely to refuse! Also make sure that children  store any uneaten chocolate in a safe place so that it is not stolen. 
  • Training: if you see your dog steal an egg or eat some wrapping, ask them to ‘drop’ it or  offer them a valued toy or tasty treat as a ‘swap’. Training your pet to give up items in  their mouth when you ask will come in handy at times like these. 

Other toxic items  

It’s not just chocolate that is extremely toxic to dogs, and Easter celebrations are often full of items that can make pets dangerously ill if ingested. Ensure all hot cross buns (that contain sultanas, currants or raisins), alcohol and lollies are stored and packed away.  

Pet-friendly Easter treats  

Fortunately there is no need for dogs to miss out on all the Easter fun. Create a pet-friendly Easter ‘egg’ hunt with tasty treats from PETstock. Handmade with love by pastry chefs using quality ingredients Pooch Treats’ Cake Pops  Biscuit, Doggy Ice Cream Cones or Sparkle Egg Gift Pack are the perfect solution to ensuring your  dog gets spoiled at Easter. 

PETstock picks: Pooch Treats Sparkle Egg Dog Gift Pack 3pk RRP: $9.99; Pooch Treats Cake Pops Biscuit Dog Treats RRP: $3.49

For more treat ideas for your pet this Easter, please visit petstock.com.au

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