Dr Robbie Anderton BVSc (Hons) MANZCVS (Small Animal Medicine) at 2:52PM Fri 22nd March
Here comes Easter – lock up your eggs!
It’s Easter, so I thought I’d write about something we ALWAYS see at this time – The Dog that has eaten ALL the Easter Eggs!
Dogs are DYNAMITE at getting to every morsel of chocolate that their owners are sure they would not be able to get to!
Knocking it off tables, getting into cupboards, finding it under beds, eating them from the garden after the Easter Bunny has been – If dogs can get to it, they will eat it – wrappers and all!
And I must say, I can’t blame them – sweet, sweet chocolate. Hang on, I’ve lost track…
Why is chocolate dangerous for dogs?
Chocolate is dangerous for dogs because it contains compounds that are stimulants (including caffeine).
Humans are less susceptible to the effects – unless you’re like me and you’ve eaten too much dark chocolate in one sitting before …
What are the signs of chocolate toxicity in dogs (and vets)?
The stimulant compounds in chocolate cause Hyperactivity, Panting, progressing to Shaking and Twitching, Seizures, Coma and possibly Death if really severe.
The signs of toxicity come on about 30-60 minutes after ingestion, and gradually get worse as more of the stimulants are absorbed.
How much chocolate is too much for dogs?
The easiest way to look at is that there is NO SAFE amount of chocolate – some dogs can be very sensitive to even a small amount.
Different types of chocolate have different concentrations of the stimulants:
Cooking chocolate is the most toxic, then dark chocolate, then milk chocolate, with white chocolate being the least toxic.
“We’ve just got home and the dog has eaten all the eggs”…
WHAT DO WE DO???
Get your dog to the clinic as soon as you can – the quicker we act, the less stimulants are absorbed.
If your dog looks fine and has only just eaten the chocolate (within about 4 hours), we make them vomit. They usually bring up all the contents of their stomach, including the chocolate – I won’t describe what this is like- it’s almost enough to put you off chocolate forever (almost…).
Once the stomach is cleared, we usually send them home with Activated Charcoal –this helps to absorb any remaining toxin.
If the dogs are showing signs of mild toxicity (so they are hyperexcited, high heart rates, twitching or shaking), we make them vomit, then admit them to hospital to go on Intravenous fluids, and monitor to make sure the signs don’t get worse.
If the dog is showing signs of severe toxicity, with severe twitching, convulsing or seizuring, we will use medications to control the tremors/seizures, and may have to “Pump the Stomach” under anaesthetic to clear away as much chocolate as possible.
What’s the prognosis?
As long as the chocolate is cleared from the stomach quickly, and dogs with mild signs are treated properly with fluids, the prognosis is excellent.
If dogs are seizuring, or have eaten a lot of chocolate (especially dark or cooking chocolate) for their size, their prognosis is good to guarded.
But it’s not just the chocolate…
Don’t give your dogs HOT CROSS BUNS either – because they have SULTANAS.
Sultanas and Grapes are on the DON’T FEED TO DOGS LISTS because some dogs will have a reaction to the Sultana/Grape that can cause ACUTE KIDNEY FAILURE.
You can’t know which dogs will react, or how many Sultanas/Grapes will cause a problem – so safest to not allow any.
What about dog chocolate?
Dog chocolate has the stimulants removed. But your dog doesn’t actually like the chocolate, it just likes the idea of getting a treat off you – it’s made for owner’s enjoyment, not for dog’s enjoyment!
So use an actual dog treat like DRIED LIVER, or even pieces of their DRY FOOD. Much better than chocolate!
So have a good Easter, check out our Facebook Page for Easter Opening Hours, Animal Health Tips, and Competitions.
Now where’s my chocolate…
Dr Robbie Anderton BVSc (Hons) MANZCVS (SA Medicine)