Easter tips

Whilst overindulging during the Easter period may result in a few extra kilograms for humans, the consequences for our animal companions are much greater and much more serious. The accidental ingestion of chocolate or baked goods containing chocolate can lead to serious illness or even death for our beloved furry friends.

Why is chocolate so dangerous for animals?

Chocolate toxicosis is a potential problem for all of our animal friends, however is it most common in dogs. This is because chocolate always contains a key ingredient called theobromine which is lethal to dogs. As well as theobromine, chocolate contains caffeine. Caffeine is dangerous to all pets as it can cause both over stimulation of the nervous system and increase our pet’s heart rate and tremors.

How much chocolate is toxic?

The toxic level depends on the type of chocolate and your pet’s body size. The darker the chocolate, the higher the stimulant content and risk to your pet. As little as 130mg dark chocolate could be lethal to a 10kg dog.

How do I know if my pet is experiencing chocolate toxicosis?

Signs vary depending on your dogs size, the type of chocolate and the amount that has been eated. Signs could appear anywhere between 30mins to 4 hours after ingested.

Mild – vomiting / diarrhoea
Moderate – vomiting / diarrhoea, restlessness, increased urination
Severe – stiffness, excitement, seizures

These can be followed by depression, coma, seizure and death.

I think my pet has eaten chocolate, what should I do?

If you suspect your pet has ingested chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately. Often it is better to assume that the chocolate could be toxic and start the required treatment in order to prevent a tragic outcome.

RSPCA Victoria has private vet clinics located at our Burwood East and Peninsula animal care centres. You can contact our veterinary staff for advice or to make an appointment on 9224 2222.

How can I prevent my pet from consuming chocolate over the Easter period?

With all the chocolate you can expect to be present in our homes over the Easter holiday, please ensure you keep chocolate well out of your pets reach. Chocolate wrappers and foil from chocolate eggs and bunnies can also be of serious harm to your animal’s health as they could choke.

Can scented candles be toxic for animals?

Scented candles (cinnamon, fig, vanilla, etc.) emit appealing aromas and may cause gastrointestinal abnormalities if consumed.

Lighting candles that are in reach of your pet can be a dangerous hazard. Even momentary contact with a lit candle can set an animals’ fur ablaze, leading to severe skin burns.

Remember also, your entire family may be at risk if a pet knocks over a candle which then ignites flammable household materials.

What types of holiday flowers are toxic to animals?

Popular holiday flowers such as lilies at Easter and poinsettias at Christmas are toxic for animals. While poinsettias have a generally mild level of toxicity to cats and dogs, please remember that lilies are extremely toxic for cats and contain a deadly toxin that can cause fatal kidney damage in cats.

Are lilies only toxic to cats if ingested?

Cats don’t have to eat the actual lily plant. If they just rub up against it and get pollen on their fur, they can ingest a fatal amount when they groom themselves. Lilies are extremely toxic for cats and can kill them.

Why are poisettias toxic?

The milky white sap found in poinsettias contains chemicals called diterpenoid euphorbol esters and saponin-like detergents. Though they have a bad rap, poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) plants are only mildly toxic to cats and dogs.

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