Easter chocolate a big pet hazard

Published on 7 April 2023

RSPCA Victoria is reminding pet owners to keep chocolate and hot cross buns well out of the reach of their furry friends this Easter, as these sweet treats are toxic to cats and dogs at certain doses.

Dr Bronwyn Oke, Chief Veterinarian at RSPCA Victoria, says chocolate poisoning can be a serious problem because chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which are highly toxic to dogs and cats.

“Human chocolate is not meant for animals. This Easter, please make sure you keep all chocolate away from dogs, cats, and any other pets you own,” warns Dr Oke.

“Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which is toxic to dogs and cats – while the concentration of theobromine depends on the type of chocolate, it’s important to take all incidents seriously, especially if you’re not sure how much the animal has eaten. The overall effect of chocolate ingestion on the dog depends on the size of the dog, the amount of chocolate ingested, and the type of chocolate eaten.

“Grapes, sultanas, and raisins are also highly toxic to dogs and can cause kidney failure. This means you need to keep your chocolate and hot cross buns out of reach of your pets, especially over Easter!

“If your pet has ingested even a small amount of something they shouldn’t have, do not take a ‘wait and see’ approach. When your pet starts showing symptoms after eating a sweet treat, it’s potentially already in a life-threatening situation. It is much better to call or visit your local vet as soon as possible for advice.”

Symptoms of chocolate ingestion in dogs may include:

· restlessness, excitement, hyperactivity

· nervousness, trembling

· vomiting

· diarrhoea

· increased drinking and urination

· increased heart rate

· muscle tremors

· seizures

· if left untreated, possible death

Vets can usually treat chocolate poisoning by inducing vomiting and with supportive therapy, but it is important to seek veterinary attention quickly.

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