Beware the Easter Bunny!

Don't let your dog catch the Easter Bunny!

Coming up to Easter we all get very excited about a 4 day long weekend, and far to much of the chocolate goodies that the Easter Bunny drops off.  While the volumes of chocolate the average Australian consumes isn't good for us, even a small amount can be lethal for the family dog.

The offending components of Chocolate are theobromine and caffeine which may result in abnormal heart rhythms and Central Nervous Systems (CNS) disturbances.  While many species are susceptible, it tends to affect dogs more as they will generally eat anything, and if we are eating it it must be good!  

 Theobromine and caffeine will stimulate the CNS, increase urinary output and heart rate.  Each animal's sensitivity is different but as little as 60g of chocolate per kilogram of dog can be a fatal dose.  Please note that white chocolate has a negligible amount of theobromine or caffeine but does contain significant amounts of fat and sugar.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may become evident 6-12 hours after consumption of your favourite Lindt Bunny! 

As theobromine and caffeine is absorbed an animal may become very thirsty, and restless and may start vomiting and having diarrhoea.  This may get worst and progress to tremors or seizures and incontinence.  The heart will begin to race and become irregular, rapid panting may lead to hyperthermia, and a bluish tinge may begin to appear on the mucous membranes.  The animal's blood pressure will increase, fever may occur which may then lead into coma.

What to do if your dog accidentally eats chocolate

If you see your dog eating your Easter Chocolate treats, immediately remove it from them and identify how much they have consumed. If they have consumed a significant amount take the packet with you to the vet, along with the estimate time of consumption and the amount you thing they have consumed.  This will allow your vet to make informed choices on the treatment required.

Treatment for chocolate poisoning

There is no antidote tochocolate poisoning so in most cases if your animal has just consumed the chocolate your vet will make the dog vomit, flush out your pet's stomach and feed the animal activated charcoal to absorb any residual toxins.

In severe cases where the animal is already showing signs of poisoning, medications may be used to stabilise heart rhythms, seizures, blood pressure and fluid balance.  Some animals may require hospitalisation for up to 3 days.

The Moral of the Story

Your animals do not do well on human food such as chocolate. If you want to spoil you furry friends this Easter get them some Carob Drops, or a nice fresh bone.  Better yet, a big fat slab of your companionship!