With Easter comes plenty of treats that include chocolate, making it a good time to keep a close watch on your dogs. While these sweet treats spell joy and happiness for the kids (and young at heart) during the holiday, they could spell death for one’s furry friend.
Two compounds in chocolate, namely caffeine and theobromine, make it poisonous for dogs. Easter has, in fact, emerged as a time when most cases of chocolate toxicity take place.
Easter Chocolate Versus Dogs
In Australia, for instance, Dr. Oliver Conradi said they have about 1,000 cases of chocolate toxicity during the entire year, making it quite common. The numbers dramatically climb on Easter.
“During the Easter period we see a massive surge, about a 200 percent increase in cases compared to the average for the rest of the year,” he said.
The veterinarian explained that there are two factors at work when it comes to chocolate toxicity in pet dogs. First, the severity depends on whether the product is milk chocolate or dark chocolate, where the latter boasts of much higher amounts of the toxic compounds.
Next, the size of the dog also proves important. A small French bulldog that weighs up to 22 pounds and ingests a treat containing up to 3.5 ounces of chocolate could be near enough death or severe poisoning.
If your pet happens to eat chocolate, look for a range of symptoms, which could also depend on how much chocolate was consumed. Low-level toxicity, for instance, may involve mild gastrointestinal signs including vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, and increased drinking and urination. A higher dose may entail symptoms such as seizures, tremors, and arrhythmias or an irregular heart rate.
Huge doses, of course, potentially lead to dog death.
Dr. Conradi pointed to a window of three hours when it comes to chocolate poisoning in dogs. After this time, the food goes from the stomach to the intestines, at which part it can no longer be retrieved. Support through the toxicity phase includes administering IV fluids and attempting to clean up the chocolate using charcoal.
If you are uncertain as to how much chocolate was consumed by your dog, contact your veterinarian for immediate care.
Your Dog’s Other Easter Foes
Take a look at these other Easter-time hazards to pets:
Easter lilies: While a standard floral decoration at springtime, lilies can poison cats such that a small nibble can result in sickness. Toxicity symptoms include vomiting, drooling, appetite loss, and lethargy. Dogs aren’t really bothered by Easter lilies but can fall ill if they consume lily-like houseplants commonly seen in spring.
Easter grass: Plastic grass at home could harm pets via obstructing their intestines. The long pieces, too, could get wrapped around their tongue.
Gums containing Xylitol: This sugar alcohol, commonly used as a sweetener in sugar-free candies, is deadly to pets and can quickly render them seriously ill.
Easter eggs: Tiny amounts of hard-boiled egg could be considered a safe treat, but eggs that have gone bad could be found by your pet and can lead to GI troubles. Even plastic eggs could be a threat when the dog chews on them and gets injured.