It is the day after Easter and homes are filled with chocolate Easter Bunnies. They are safe for happy children consuming them, although not necessarily healthy, but can be toxic for your family pet. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, colas and some human pain medication. Theobromine is present in chocolate, cocoa beans, colas and tea.
Theobromine and caffeine working together can be toxic to the nervous system as strong stimulants. These drugs are rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Cocoa powder contains the highest amounts of caffeine – so no hot chocolate for Fido! White chocolate contains very small amounts of Theobromine but can cause painful pancreatitis and tummy upset due to the fat and sugar.
The most common signs of chocolate toxicity are restlessness and hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, increased drinking, and a rapid heart rate. Your pet may begin pacing and may not be able to sit still. They may pant and appear anxious. Hyperactivity may progress to tremors and seizures, if large amounts are ingested. Contact your veterinarian or emergency clinic immediately, if you observe these signs or your pet has consumed large amounts of chocolate, such as the whole bunny.
In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend that you induce vomiting at home. This should be done only under the direction of your veterinarian. Depending on the amount ingested and signs the animal is exhibiting, activated charcoal may be administered which helps to absorb the compounds from the intestine. With more serious signs, the dog may be admitted to the hospital and placed on intravenous fluids, as well as medications to control hyperactivity, seizures, vomiting, or a rapid heart rate.
In most cases, recovery occurs within 24-48 hours with appropriate treatment. Recovery may be uncertain if large amounts are ingested, if treatment is delayed, or if the pet is exhibiting serious signs.
The bottom line is to safely put away all chocolate products from your pets especially during holidays. Don’t let the chocolate bunny ruin your pet’s Easter!