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Don't give your pet chocolate this Easter
Girl with rabbit on grass

Keep chocolate away from your pet this Easter

Vets are warning owners to keep chocolate away from their pets after revealing it's the main cause of poisonings in dogs.

Families throughout the UK will soon be sharing chocolate eggs and treats to celebrate the end of lent and start of Easter.

However, vets are warning pet owners to keep all chocolate away from their pets after revealing it is the main cause of poisonings in dogs.

Pets getting their paws on chocolate means that Easter is now the second busiest time of year for cases of chocolate poisoning, just behind Christmas.

Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “We want to make sure that the 8.5 million dogs in the UK are safe from chocolate this Easter.

“Whether it’s caused by owners giving their pet an Easter egg as a present or chocolate is accidentally left within their reach, we see an influx of pets suffering from chocolate poisoning at this time of year.

“Chocolate is particularly toxic to dogs, as it contains caffeine and theobromine, two substances that dogs are incredibly sensitive to.”

Theobromine and caffeine are present in roasted cocoa beans which chocolate is derived from. If ingested by dogs it affects the heart, central nervous system and kidneys.

“Unlike humans, dogs find it difficult to break down and excrete these substances. This means they can easily build-up in the dog’s system and lead to poisoning,” added Dr Stacey.

“The higher the level of cocoa in the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains and the more hazardous the chocolate becomes to pets. 

“Therefore dark chocolate is the biggest danger to dogs, and is more likely to cause medical complications than white or regular milk chocolate.

“The level of toxicity also depends on the size of the dog, but for most dogs even small amounts of chocolate can trigger unpleasant reactions.”

The usual signs of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, increased body temperature and heart rate, rapid breathing and can even lead to seizures and cardiac failure.

Dr Stacey added: “In order for owners and their pets to enjoy a happy Easter together, the best option is to keep all chocolate out of their reach and give them an animal-friendly treat instead, like a dental chew or even special dog friendly ‘chocolate’ treats.

“Although there aren’t as many cases of chocolate poisoning for cats, rabbits and rodents, they can all still suffer from health issues after digesting chocolate.

“If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, then it is always safest to take them straight to the nearest veterinary practice for a check over.”

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Cora with chocolate

Cora ate two chocolate Easter Eggs aged 4 months

Cora’s owner, Tim Davis from Buckingham, had bought four chocolate Easter Eggs for his nieces and nephews. Having left the eggs in a plastic bag on the dining room table, well out of the reach of Cora, Tim popped out to run a small errand.

In 30 minutes Cora had managed to jump up to grab a handle of the bag, pull it to the floor, empty the contents, and unwrap and eat two chocolate Easter Eggs.

Upon seeing the devastation, Tim phoned his local vets in Buckingham who advised him to come in immediately.

Within an hour Cora had been given a drug (apometic) to empty the chocolate from her stomach and avoid any ill effects. Two hours after eating the egg, Cora was back home none the worse for her ordeal.

Maggie Doherty, veterinary surgeon and owner at Vets4Pets Buckingham, said: “Luckily Cora’s owner knew the potential dangers of chocolate and we were able to administer a drug to induce vomiting.

Coco - chocolate poisoning

Coco ate a big box of milk tray and a box of truffles

Coco’s owner, Ben Haywood from Harrogate, had nipped out to the shops, leaving two selection boxes of chocolates and truffles on the kitchen counter. When Ben returned five minutes later, he saw the remains of the empty boxes on the kitchen floor. Coco had managed to get hold of the two boxes and devoured the majority of the contents.

Ben immediately called his local vets, who told him to bring Coco in straight away and administered an injection to induce vomiting and rid Coco of all the chocolate in his stomach.

After an hour at the vets, Coco was given the all clear and sent home with a special charcoal food to help absorb the toxins. Within a few days Coco was back to normal, much to the relief of Ben.

“I was aware that chocolate was bad for dogs, but I didn’t understand just exactly how poisonous it was for them,” said Ben.

“Coco is a cheeky character and often sneaks into the kitchen cupboards when we leave the house.

“Now we make sure to keep all food that he might be tempted to eat in the downstairs cupboard, as the handle is too high for him to reach. It was a huge relief when Coco was given the all-clear and I can’t thank the team at Vets4Pets Harrogate enough for helping.”

Leigh-Anne Brown, owner and veterinary surgeon at Vets4Pets Harrogate, said: “A lot of owners are still unaware just how poisonous chocolate can be for dogs.