Keep your pet safe this Easter - Chocolate and Hot Cross Bun Toxcity

Posted by Claire Cable on 28 March 2017

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With Easter just around the corner we would like to share with you some information that will help your furred family members have a healthy and safe Easter.

chocolate poisoning in dogs 55a3bbc0c586bWith the smell of chocolate and hot cross buns filling the air and the excitement of Easter egg hunts, our pets are often tempted to join in the festivities and get their paws on these tasty but highly toxic treats.


Whether it is caused by owners giving their pet an Easter egg as a present or chocolate accidentally left within reach, chocolate poisoning is the most common toxicity in pets. 

Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine. Cats, dogs and pocket pets are very sensitive to these substances and struggle to break them down and rid of them from their body leading to a build-up in levels and poisoning.  Dark chocolate contains more theobromine and is the biggest danger to pets followed by milk chocolate and then white chocolate. The level of toxicity is correlated to the amount and type of chocolate eaten, and the weight of the pet.

Signs of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, increased body temperature and heart rate, rapid breathing, hyperactivity and restlessness and can even lead to seizures and heart failure.

Vommiting chocolateThere is no antidote for chocolate toxicity. Treatment is purely supportive and includes inducing vomiting if the dog has eaten the chocolate in the last few hours to help try and get it out of the stomach, administering activated charcoal solution to help bind the toxins in the gastrointestinal tract, controlling nausea and feeding of a bland easily digested diet. In more serious cases intravenous fluid therapy, sedatives, seizure medication, oxygen and heart medication may be required.

Most dogs usually recover with aggressive supportive therapy.  If treatment is given within four hours of the chocolate being eaten the prognosis is good. Heart failure, weakness, seizures, coma and death can occur 12-36 hours after eating and the prognosis may be guarded.

If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, or you are not sure but it is showing typical symptoms, don’t wait and see what happens. Call the clinic on 03 389 6558 or if we are closed the After Hours Veterinary Clinic on 03 366 1052 and be prepared to come straight down.  Please bring the chocolate packaging with you and try and work our roughly how much you think your pet has eaten so we can work out what the likelihood of a toxic dose is and treat accordingly.

Please keep all chocolate out of reach of your pets.  If you have kids keep a close eye on the location of their stash and that this is also safe.  If you are having an Easter egg hunt make sure your pets are secured away so they can’t join in!

If you would like to read more about Chocolate Poisoning check out Barney’s story. 

Hot Cross Buns:

plateHard to resist for all the family these tasty treats usually contain dried fruits like raisins, sultanas and currants which can be toxic to dogs. Along with grapes these can cause acute kidney failure. Symptoms of toxicity include vomiting and or diarrhoea often within a few hours of eating (the vomit and faeces are likely to contain bits of dried fruit), loss of appetite, lethargy and weakness, dehydration and decreased urine production and can progress to tremors, seizures and coma.

So don’t feel guilty about not sharing hot cross buns with your dog, and as above if you are worried your dog has tucked in then please give us a call immediately.

Happy Easter from the Vetcall Team and please keep your pet safe.

We will be closed for the Easter Weekend. Please contact the Afterhours Veterinary Centre on 03 366 1052 if you have any concerns about your pet over the break.