The increasing popularity of high quality 'posh choc'
brands this Easter is increasing the likelihood of the
nation's pets suffering fatal chocolate poisoning,
warns leading veterinary charity, PDSA.
Higher quality plain chocolate products - 'posh chocs' -
are the most dangerous 'treat' as they contain the highest
concentrated doses of theobromine - the component of
chocolate which poisons pets. So, while owners may wish
to indulge in some luxury treats this Easter, PDSA is
warning owners to keep these well out of their pet's reach.
PDSA warns that the best quality products - those with
high cocoa content - pose the biggest risk to the nation's
pets. The average (30g to 45g) bar of upmarket plain
chocolate can contain over 700mg of theobromine.
For example, just a small bar of plain chocolate
could fatally poison a Yorkshire Terrier.
People are simply not aware that even small
amounts of chocolate intended for humans can kill a little dog.
But it is not only chocolate that could be causing
problems this Easter. Cocoa shell mulches, a favourite
with gardeners, also contain high levels of theobromine
(14 to 30 mg per gram) - just a few mouthfuls
could kill a Cocker Spaniel.
PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Elaine Pendlebury says,
"I have lost count of the number of chocolate poisoning cases
I have seen during my years as a vet. There really is no place
in a pet's diet for chocolate. If you do want to indulge your pet
this Easter then opt for a healthy pet treat instead.
"Even white chocolate is dangerous, although the
theobromine content is relatively low, it can still poison pets."
Sometimes, despite an owner's best intentions, our
four-legged friends will outsmart us and get their
paws on sweet treats, as Elaine explains, "Owners
may think that they have put chocolate in a safe place,
but it's not unheard of for our clever pets to open an
unlocked cupboard to feast on naughty treats such as
chocolate. My advice is to make sure unsuitable foods
are kept in locked cupboards and think twice before
using cocoa mulches in the garden."
The effects of chocolate poisoning in dogs usually appear
within 4 to 24 hours of ingestion, and can last as long as 72 hours.
Chocolate toxicity symptoms include vomiting,
abdominal tenderness, hyperactivity, salivation and
increased heart rate (although sometimes a slower
heart rate). In severe cases there are fits, increased
rate of breathing, and heart beat irregularities.
In very severe cases it can result in the death of the pet.