Definitely not! While we are taking a few days off to enjoy the Easter celebrations keep in mind that chocolate and other Easter treats can be toxic to our pets. Usually, our pets sniff the chocolate out before we even realise because of its pleasant odour and palatability, making it easy to digest. The problem for our pets is within the active ingredient theobromine found in the cocoa bean. Did you know that caffeine is also present in most cocoa as well? So the effect on animals is similar to that on people (perhaps after too many morning coffees on a Monday!). Fast breathing and high heart rates are two of the signs, sometimes an abnormal heart rhythm called an arrhythmia can even occur. Other typical signs include vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, seizures and restlessness.

How do I know if my pet has eaten enough to cause signs?

The toxic dose of theobromine may vary, on average symptoms can occur with the ingestion of 85 mg per kilogram of body weight and caffeine is toxic at about 130mg per kilogram body weight. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate contain a lot more of these toxic substances, compared to milk chocolate, therefore signs will occur with a smaller quantity ingested. The bottom line is that if know or suspect your pet has eaten any type of chocolate, get to your vet immediately.

How do you treat chocolate toxicity?

If it is within 1-4 hours of ingestion then your vet will induce vomiting. If your pet is already showing signs then your pet may need oxygen, an intravenous drip, have a urinary catheter placed and some even need gastric lavage (stomach pumped!).
How do I prevent it?
Where you can, limit all access to any type of chocolate. Don’t leave chocolates on a low coffee table, store them up high in an enclosed cupboard. Don’t let your pets in the kitchen whilst cooking with baking chocolate and definitely don’t let them lick the bowl! Ewwww. Make sure everyone in the family knows the dangers of chocolate ingestion and don’t be tempted to give in to those puppy dog eyes!

Hot tip: Other household toxins you may not be aware of!

- Grapes and Raisins can cause kidney failure.
- Macadamia nuts can cause lethargy and vomiting, ataxia (drunk like walk) and weakness.
- Mushrooms can cause nausea, vomiting, ataxia, liver failure, kidney failure and even death.
- Mouldy food can cause tremors, hyperactivity, seizures and liver failure.
- Onion and garlic can cause a toxic anemia which can be life-threatening. These can also cause a contact type allergy if the skin of the pet is exposed too!
- Cycad palm seed ingestion causes severe liver failure and in most cases death.

Your pet is your best friend so be sure to be aware of these potential toxins around your home, especially during festive times.

I hope every-furry-body has a safe and happy Easter!