Beware chocolate for four-legged pals
■ 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.
Brett Slade, 2, enjoys his Easter egg while American Staffy puppy Zeus looks on.