Dog owners are being warned to keep potentially fatal chocolate treats away from their pets this Easter. New figures from the British Veterinary Association reveal two in three vets treated at least one case of chocolate poisoning this time last year.
Chocolate can be highly poisonous to pets, as it contains theobromine, a naturally occurring chemical found in cocoa beans. While fine for humans, theobromine is harmful to dogs and other animals.
British Veterinary Association President Gudrun Ravetz said:
“With their keen sense of smell, dogs will easily win Easter egg hunts, so wherever chocolate is being stored – inside or outside – make sure it is pet proof and out of reach of inquisitive noses to avoid an emergency trip to the vet. Remind any visitors over the Easter holidays to keep their chocolate out of the dog’s reach, too.
“Over the bank holiday weekend veterinary practice opening hours may vary, so make sure you know how to contact your local vet during Easter. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate we’d advise contacting your local vet immediately.”
BVA’s survey also highlighted that many pet owners are having to make urgent yet preventable trips to the vets over the Easter holidays, with 11% of vets who saw dogs with chocolate poisoning treating five or more cases.
The effects of chocolate poisoning in dogs, which are most commonly affected amongst pets, usually appear within 12 hours and can last up to three days. First signs can include excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea and restlessness.
These symptoms can then develop into hyperactivity, tremors, abnormal heart rate, hyperthermia and rapid breathing. In severe cases, dogs can experience fits and heartbeat irregularities and some cases can result in coma or death. If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, contact your local vet immediately.