Dog and chocolate

Keep Easter treats away from your pets

Vets are reminding pet owners to make sure that chocolates and hot cross buns are kept well out of reach of curious pets this Easter.

Chocolate can be extremely harmful for both dogs and cats and Easter often leads to a spike in cases of chocolate poisoning, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) said.

Dogs are particularly susceptible to poisoning due to a chemical called theobromine, which is found naturally in cocoa beans. Theobromine takes a long time to be broken down inside a dog’s digestive system, so even a tiny amount of chocolate can result in toxic levels, especially for smaller dogs and puppies.

Raisins and sultanas, found in hot cross buns and Simnel cakes, and xylitol, found in sugar-free treats, can also be dangerous for pets if ingested.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning initially include excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea and restlessness. This can develop into symptoms of hyperactivity, tremors, abnormal heart rate, hyperthermia (overheating) and rapid breathing, and severe cases may result in fits and heartbeat irregularities, and even coma and death. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs and cats, so your vet may recommend your pet has blood tests or is put on fluids if there is any delay in being seen.

If you believe your pet may have eaten chocolate or other toxic foods, seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.

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