Advertisement

Vet issues Easter egg warning as pet chocolate poisonings soar

Households often have more sweet treats than usual over the Easter weekend  (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Households often have more sweet treats than usual over the Easter weekend (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A vet has issued a warning in time for Easter as cases of chocolate poisoning in pets are surging over the holidays.

With many celebrating Easter this Sunday by exchanging chocolate eggs, vets are reminding dog owners to keep chocolate far away from their mischievous animals.

The ingestion of chocolate can lead to serious symptoms including seizures and in the worst cases, fatalities.

The problem is worsened by the closure of most surgeries over public holidays, which can lead to pricier vet bills as owners have to take their animals to out-of-hours clinics.

Veterinary surgeon Dr Mark Boddy, from pet helpline PawSquad, said: "Last Easter, we saw calls relating to chocolate ingestion more than double during Easter week. Cases of toxicity and gastric upset in general can be up to triple their usual volume around holidays like Easter, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day.

Don’t let your dog end up at the vet (College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University)
Don’t let your dog end up at the vet (College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University)

“In these instances, it is crucial to be able to speak to a vet quickly, particularly while in-person vets may be closed."

The helpline, which runs 24/7 for pet owners, said it saw a stark rise in calls during the Easter week of 2023.

It said requests regarding toxicity almost tripled compared to the previous week, and phone calls specifically referring to chocolate cases more than doubled.

Over bank holidays a rise in gastrointestinal problems in pets is reported too, with households enjoying more tempting food.

Insurance provider Admiral received claims for a cocker spaniel which ate a chocolate bar still in its wrapper, and a small dog that scoffed an 150g piece of chocolate - the same amount as an entire Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

A cocker spaniel was poisoned after eating a chocolate bar last year (Alamy/PA)
A cocker spaniel was poisoned after eating a chocolate bar last year (Alamy/PA)

Although the majority of pet owners are aware that chocolate is poisonous to their furry friends, there are many other food items that can pose serious problems.

Contrary to popular belief, cooked bones can be a choking hazard to dogs. Nuts, particularly Macadamia nuts, are also dangerous for cats and dogs.

Grapes and raisins, found in hot cross buns, are highly toxic to dogs.

What should you do if you think your animal has eaten chocolate? Dr Mark Boddy offers his advice to pet owners.

Assess the situation

Firstly, assess the amount and the type of chocolate which has been ingested and reach out to a vet immediately. Dark chocolate and cocoa contain higher levels of theobromine, which is toxic to pets. The smaller the pet, the more dangerous even a small amount can be.

Keep a close eye on your pet

Symptoms of chocolate toxicity can include vomiting and diarrhoea, restlessness, or rapid breathing and heart rate. If your pet shows severe symptoms such as seizures or loss of consciousness, head to an emergency vet immediately.

Ensure your pet stays hydrated

Offer water if your pet is stable, but avoid home remedies for inducing vomiting without veterinary guidance.

Speak to a vet as soon as possible

They’ll ask about the type of chocolate amount ingested and your pet size, so follow their guidance on what to do next.