Beware choco­late for four-legged pals

Pilbara News - - News - Ali­cia Perera

■ Easter is a time for in­dulging in sweet treats, but for fam­ily pets, choco­late presents some big­ger risks than just a sugar high.

Kar­ratha Pets and Vets vet Tim Mont­gomery said it was dan­ger­ous for pets to eat choco­late.

“There’s a com­pound in choco­late called theo­bromine,” he said.

“It’s in the same fam­ily as caf­feine, and it causes a whole bunch of things: hy­per­ac­tiv­ity, tremors, vom­it­ing.

“But when it gets to quite high lev­els it causes seizures, ir­reg­u­lar heart­beat, and even death.”

While cats are more sen­si­tive to choco­late than dogs, they are not drawn to it, un­like their ca­nine coun­ter­parts, who can sniff out well-hid­den morsels and can’t sense when to stop.

Dr Mont­gomery said ca­nine choco­late binges were a com­mon is­sue at the clinic over Easter.

“It’s mainly be­cause peo­ple buy Easter eggs a few weeks in ad­vance and pop them in a se­cure lit­tle spot, and the dog has a lot of time to work out how to get to it when the owner’s not there,” he said.

“In the last few weeks, I’ve had two or three cases, but I ex­pect it to be a lot higher over the long week­end, per­haps three or four a day.

“Most peo­ple do a very good job of hid­ing it, but the risk is high be­cause there is more choco­late around.”

Kar­ratha Mo­bile Ve­teri­nary Ser­vices vet Lisa Pearce said she had only taken five or six choco­late-re­lated calls in the past six months from con­cerned clients and “each time the amount eaten was in­signif­i­cant”.

But she said it was an is­sue dog own­ers needed to be aware of.

“Be very aware that if your dog eats enough choco­late, that can be fa­tal,” she said.

“If you find your dog has eaten choco­late, then ask for help.”

To keep Easter eggs out of paw’s reach, store them in a high place where dogs can’t reach them or in en­closed stor­age spa­ces like the fridge or cup­board.

Most dogs who have overindulged are treated by in­duc­ing vom­it­ing, though in more se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tions an­ti­con­vul­sants and other med­i­ca­tions are needed.

How se­ri­ously dogs are af­fected de­pends on their size and the in­ten­sity of the choco­late they have snacked on.

Dr Mont­gomery said as a guide, there was 2mg of theo­bromine in ev­ery gram of choco­late, and for a 10kg dog own­ers should call a vet if they’ve eaten 100g of milk choco­late, 40g of dark choco­late, 15g of bak­ing choco­late, or only 7.5g of dry co­coa pow­der.

But pets do not have to be de­prived of sweet treats on Easter, with im­i­ta­tion choco­late made from carob, which does not con­tain theo­bromine, widely avail­able.

Pic­ture: Ali­cia Perera

Brett Slade, 2, en­joys his Easter egg while Amer­i­can Staffy puppy Zeus looks on.

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