To most of us this Easter will involve enjoying a chocolate egg or two! Please remember that chocolate is also delicious to dogs, less so to cats, but potentially lethal to both.
Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, a potent toxin that causes the problems. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning occur if the patient consumes enough theobromine and the content varies in different forms of chocolate with dark chocolate and cocoa powder containing more.
Poisoning initially causes abdominal pain and vomiting, restlessness and could cause difficulty standing or walking. In more severely affected patients it can progress causing increased breathing rate and muscle tremours, eventually leading to seizures and death.
The theobromine has no specific antidote and this means that chocolate poisoning is an emergency in order to try and stop the absorption of the theobromine quickly and treat the symptoms.
Chocolate is digested more slowly in dogs than in people and therefore signs may not appear for several hours after the chocolate has been eaten, and the slow processing of theobromine by the body in dogs means that the effects can be prolonged.
If treated early enough and the quantities are not exceptionally high the outlook for recovery is good and patients show no long term side effects from the poisoning.
We hope that both you and your pets have a Happy Easter without a trip to the vets all because of a Chocolate egg!