Whether you are religious about Easter, or it’s just a long weekend for indulgence and time with family, those delicious chocolatey delights of eggs, bunnies and bilbys, or the warm aromatic hot cross buns can spell “DANGER WILL ROBINSON”(for those old enough to remember the robot from "Lost in Space" you will understand this!) for your pooch (or cat) !
BUT IT TASTES SO GOOD!
I’m no expert, but I have done my Google Research - I shamefully admit, I have given dogs I have loved and treasured, and would never dream of hurting, chocolate in the past - but that was through ignorance and I was soooooo lucky that they coped with it despite my stupidity.
Any vet will tell you that chocolate is toxic to dogs because it contains methylxanthines - caffein and theobromine (stronger and lasts longer than caffeine but has similar effects), that’s what gives us humans the BUZZ and releases endorphins into our body making us feel warm and fuzzy ( and why many of us turn to it as comfort food when we are feeling low). The darker the chocolate the higher the concentration of theobromine and caffeine and the more kick we get! Whilst our human digestive system can cope with this, our Furry Babies are not so lucky in dealing with these chemicals in their system.
Chocolate Toxicity in dogs can display as vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, shaking (tremors), fits (seizures), racing heartbeat or abnormal heart rhythm (bradycardia) and in severe cases even DEATH - YES - YOU HEARD ME DEATH!!!!
White chocolate has very little theobromine, but is still a bit risk due to the high fat content which can result in Pancreatitis - which can also be fatal for many dogs. Dark Chocolate or Cooking Chocolate has the highest levels of theobromine and caffeine and is the most toxic, with only a small amount required to be fatal.
The danger and risk of how toxic the theobromine is for an individual dog is relative to the size of the dog, the type of chocolate (ie level of theobromine concentration) and the amount they have eaten. Personally, it’s Russian Roulette and I won’t take the chance on giving Cebar or Whisky any !!! Even the grandchildren have been educated on this - no sharing with the fur babies or YaYa (what the choose to call me) will go ballistic - and that won’t be pretty!
Whilst you may not be silly enough to actually hand-over chocolate to your dog, they may inadvertently ingest some, maybe an unsuspecting child or visitor thought they should share with the cute puppy, or your mischievous little munchkin is still a puppy who steals whatever he can and puts everything in his mouth (Whisky this has your name all over it!). So what do you do if somehow, your pooch has managed to get his nashers around some forbidden chocolate source?
There are online Chocolate Toxicity Calculators you can Google to help you calculate the risk level (it’s safest to assume the largest amount likely from whatever is missing) but even it the risk appress low, if your dog is showing any symptoms I would get it to the nearest Vet immediately!
If you have caught them in the act so you know that the chocolate has only been eaten in the last 10-15 min you can try to make your dog vomit. Calling a vet for advice on the safest and most effective way to do this is advisable. Sometimes they will vomit on their own in any case.
Even if they seem fine, keep a close eye on them as it takes several days (4-5 according to Mr Google) for the Theobromine to be cleared from their body - so symptoms can occur at any time and may require a rush trip to the vet.
Chocolate bars may also contain nuts - and Macadamia nuts are highly poisonous to dogs. They can cause the dog to vomit, be unable to send or walk, wobble when they walk, have the shakes (tremors) and a low body temperature (hypothermia). So avoid them at all costs.
In addition to the chemical toxicity, the other significant risk is the high fat content. A sudden high fat meal ( such as scoring a block of forbidden chocolate) can create Pancreatitis - which can also be deadly. We know this only too well when we almost lost our 9yr old Cocker, Cebar last year to his first (and thankfully only) bout of Pancreatitis last year.
The high fat level stimulates the pancreas to go into overdrive to make enough digestive enzymes to deal with the overload of fat and this causes extreme inflammation and pain in the organ. Vomiting, Diarrhea, and stomach pain are the start of it, but can quickly process to infection and irreversible organ damage. Cebar is NEVER allowed any high fat foods now as the risk is too great that he would have a flare up of this condition.
ONE A PENNY, TWO A PENNY, HOT CROSS BUNS……give them to your daughters, given them to your sons……. But NEVER to those fur babies with 4 legs!!!!
These Easter goodies are not quite in the same danger realm as chocolate, but they are still a NO, NO none the less. This time it’s the dehydrated grapes (raisins and currants) that are traditionally baked into the buns. Grapes (dehydrated or otherwise) can cause kidney failure in both dogs and cats. I found this out by accident many, many years ago now, when I let my two black solid cockers, Jock and Skye, eat a bit of left over bread and butter pudding that had sultanas in it. Urgent after-hours trip to the vet, two days in hospital and thousands of dollars later, my fur babies were back in my arms and my lesson was well and truly learnt!
There are many alternative doggie treats (eg Carob based) that are safe and healthy for your fur baby on the market, but its not the purpose of this blog to promote any particular item - just be sure and check out any ingredients and fat content before you share it with your dog!
Have a great, but safe Easter!
Love "Auntie Karen" xxx