Charlie, a Labrador cross Staffordshire Bull Terrier, had a bit of a sweet tooth and ended up needing emergency veterinary treatment after consuming 1kg of chocolate. The chocolate-loving pup managed to jump a stair-gate to get hold of some Mini Eggs and was found by her owners with the chewed empty packet. Charlie's owners quickly realised that something was wrong when she began vomiting at home and continued to do so while travelling in the car.
The family quickly rushed Charlie to the PDSA pet hospital in Bournemouth, Dorset, where she was given an injection to make her vomit further and ensure there was no chocolate left in her stomach. This was a crucial step in preventing the dog from suffering from the effects of theobromine poisoning, a condition caused by consuming chocolate which is toxic to pets such as dogs, cats, and rabbits.
Speaking about the incident, PDSA vet Clare Sparks explained that the seriousness of chocolate poisoning depends on various factors, including the amount consumed, the size of the animal and the cocoa content of the chocolate. She also explained that the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is for the pet.
"Theobromine is totally safe for humans but toxic to animals, including common household pets," Sparks said. She went on to explain that symptoms of chocolate poisoning usually appear within two to four hours, but in severe cases, it could take up to 12 hours. Symptoms can include fast breathing, panting, shaking, trembling, and tremors, high temperature, seizures, a fast heart rate, and high blood pressure.
Despite her ordeal, Charlie has since made a full recovery. However, the PDSA is warning pet owners to keep chocolate and raisins away from their furry friends. Treatment for chocolate and raisin toxicity increases by around 23% every Easter, and owners need to be mindful of this fact when indulging in Easter treats.
If you suspect that your pet has consumed chocolate, you should call your vet immediately. They will ask you how much chocolate you think your pet has eaten and may need to know the type of chocolate consumed as the cocoa powder will likely be more toxic than white chocolate. There isn't a cure for theobromine poisoning, so vets will typically induce vomiting to empty the animal's stomach of chocolate.
The vet may also put the animal on a drip to control their hydration and heart rate or give them activated charcoal to try and soak up the toxins. Severe cases of chocolate poisoning in pets can lead to heart failure, coma, and even death.