I’m sure everyone is looking forward to the Easter break now, and getting excited about all the chocolate eggs that are going to be given (and received), especially now that the restrictions are about to be eased. Delicious as these chocolate treats may be for us, we would like to raise awareness of the dangers that these can pose to your pet and so below we have outlined the most common toxins that we see ingested around this time of year, and what to do if you suspect ingestion.
Chocolate: The toxic compound found in chocolate is called theobromine and in large quantities this can cause vomiting, an increase in heart rate (known as tachycardia) and in some cases convulsions. The darker the chocolate, the higher the theobromine content and therefore it is potentially more dangerous. Cocoa powder has a high theobromine content, so baked goods containing cocoa powder are also a potential danger for your pets.
As a rough guide 1.25g dark chocolate/kg bodyweight or 9g milk chocolate/kg bodyweight could be toxic, and your pet will require treatment from our vets. We recommend always phoning us with any amount that is ingested, so that we can advise you on whether your pet needs seeing.
Raisins: Hot cross buns contain raisins which can be toxic to some dogs (and cats). The mechanism of the toxicity is unknown, but they have been known to cause vomiting, diarrhoea and kidney failure. The toxicity is not dose dependent, so we advise that even one raisin has the potential to cause issues, and your pet should be seen as soon as possible so that we can initiate the necessary treatment.
Macadamias: Found in some chocolates and biscuits, these nuts can cause lethargy, a high temperature and weakness. Again, the mechanism of toxicity is unknown, so it always better to have your pet seen if you suspect ingestion.
Xylitol: Used as a sweetener if confectionary and baking, this product may be good for our waistlines, but it can cause very severe symptoms when ingested by our pets. Even in small quantities, xylitol will stimulate a release of insulin in the body, as if they have just eaten something sugary and this then causes a rapid drop in blood glucose (hypoglycaemia). This can lead to convulsions and even induce comas. At larger quantities, xylitol can lead to liver failure. If you suspect xylitol ingestion, then phone us for advice and so that we can start treatment as soon as possible.
Daffodils: Just because we don’t want to eat them, doesn’t mean your dog won’t! Ingestion can cause vomiting/diarrhoea or in some rare cases, collapse. Mostly they don’t cause too much of an issue, but if you are concerned your pet has eaten daffodils- give us a ring and we can advise whether your pet requires treatment.
Easter Lilies: All parts of the lily plant are poisonous to cats. The most common way that they ingest the lily is by brushing past the flowers, getting pollen on their coats and then swallowing it when they groom themselves. This can cause kidney failure in cats and so if you suspect ingestion, we recommend being seen as soon as possible.
After toxin exposure, even if your pet has started vomiting, this doesn’t mean that they will be out of the woods- they are likely to need full emptying of the stomach (which we achieve by administrating an injection). The quicker we see your pet post ingestion, the higher chance we have of saving them from any lasting effects of toxicity.
If you are concerned that your pet has eaten any of the products above, or anything else that you are not sure about, please do contact us, the Cape Veterinary Clinic, as soon as possible on 01483 538990.
Catherine Hannah BVSc MRCVS
References: Dechra veterinary products, BSAVA & VPIS common canine and feline poisons.