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Posted By: Nat - Vet Nurse

Take care with Easter Treats!

Spring is upon us and the Easter holiday is fast approaching and lots of chocolatey treats will be lining up ready to consume in excess.  However humans are not the only ones with a sweet tooth, chocolate toxicity percentages in dogs rise over the Easter period and dogs are usually admitted to induce vomiting (if ingested within the first 3 hours). Other symptoms include mild gastrointestinal signs (vomiting and diarrhoea) hospitalised and monitored vital signs from kidney parameters, abnormal heart rate, hyper excitability, overheating and in worse case scenarios convulsions, coma and death.

This is due to the component in chocolate called Theobromine.  The darker and more concentrated the chocolate, the more toxic it is; with white chocolate being a lower risk, milk chocolate a higher risk and dark chocolate the most dangerous.  Symptoms are based on the amount of chocolate your dog ate, the type of chocolate (dark, cooking, cocoa powder, cocoa beans, or milk), and the weight of your dog.

 Please take into consideration some of these products that contain Theobromine will be within your baking goods too. Take care when planning a chocolate  Easter egg  treasure hunt trial and keep dogs away from the area until you know all chocolate has been retrieved.

On the subject of baking, other sweet and traditional treats during Easter will be Easter cakes and Easter biscuits and can be poisonous to dogs, and potentially poisonous to cats. It’s thought the dried versions of the fruits (e.g. raisins and currents) are more likely to cause severe symptoms and potentially renal failure. But it’s unclear exactly what causes the toxic effects. Symptoms include gastrointestinal signs, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite, lethargy and weakness, difficulty in passing urine, hyperexcitability, seizures, coma and sometimes death.

If you thinking of making a healthier alternative with sweet treats , Xylitol is a sugar substitute and found in many sweeteners and is also a high level of toxicity. It can cause low glucose levels in the blood stream due to high levels of insulin being released from the pancreas and the effect can occur as quick as 10-60 minutes after eating Xylitol. Left untreated hypoglycaemia can cause extreme illness and death.

Please also be aware of packaging being kept away from your dog , e.g. tinfoil that has been covering your chocolate and plastic wrapping etc – these can cause gastro intestinal upsets or in worst case scenarios gastro intestinal obstruction that will need veterinary attention and surgical intervention.

If you are ever concerned that your pet has eaten something toxic please do contact your Veterinary Surgery ASAP.

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