If you’re preparing an Easter egg hunt for the little ones this weekend, keep in mind your furry friends too. Experts warn that chocolate can be fatal to dogs and cats if ingested and not treated.
Dr. Jack Wilson, veterinarian and instructor at the University of Calgary, said dogs are natural-born hunters and will quickly sniff out the chocolatey treats.
“Dogs like chocolate. It’s sweet and they’ll go out of their way to find it and eat it,” said Wilson. “It can cause big problems.”
Wilson said chocolate contains methylxantine, which may be considered healthy for humans but is poisonous to cats and dogs. And the more bitter and darker the chocolate, the more methylxantine it probably has.
“It’s basically caffeine and that can affect a dog’s [or cat’s] brain and their cardiovascular system,” said Wilson.
Wilson said some initial symptoms to look out for if you suspect your four-legged friend has eaten chocolate are vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, shaking and excessive thirst.
If it’s not caught right away, the symptoms could worsen.
“Then their heart starts to race, so their heart rates goes up. Then they develop rhythm problems with their heart and that can lead to seizures and if untreated, to death,” said Wilson.
Wilson advised that the best way to treat a pet that has eaten chocolate is to take them to the vet and let the doctors know what kind of chocolate it was, how much chocolate was eaten and when it was ingested.
“A good thing to do if you catch the dog in the act, or you’re pretty sure it’s just happened, is to get the dog to throw up,” said Wilson. “The best way to do that is with a drug given by a veterinarian.”
Wilson noted that inducing vomiting in cats is “a bit of a chore,” so cats will definitely need to be given an injection by a veterinarian.
If your pet is a smaller breed, it takes less chocolate to poison them. In general, it can take up to four days for the chocolate to leave Fido’s system so it’s best to avoid it altogether.
Here are Wilson’s top three tips to help avoid any mishaps during your Easter egg hunt:
Confine the dog until the hunt is over. “The Easter eggs will be more likely found by the dogs than they’ll be found by kids, so lock the dog up somewhere so that it has no access [to the chocolate],” said Wilson.
Make sure any chocolate products are well out of reach of pups. “A lot of dogs are successful counter surfers so it has to be really out of the way.”
Be alert and educated about the dangers of chocolate toxicity. “And seek help from your veterinarian as soon as possible.”
One last thing to watch out for this Easter weekend, said Wilson, is to be strategic about where you display your Easter lilies.
“Easter lilies are toxic to cats and they’re commonly found in homes this time of year and of course putting something out of the reach of a cat is more challenging.” (Jenny Rodigues, Global News)