April brings around the celebration of Easter, which many people will recognise as a holiday of religious significance and others will celebrate the arrival of the Easter Bunny and chocolate. With the deliciousness of the amazing treat we consume, it is important to understand that it should not be shared with our pets. Chocolate contains an ingredient called Theobromine which reacts with the cells in the body of cats and dogs causing a toxic reaction, and stimulation of the central nervous system.
Symptoms can vary between individuals and of course how much they ingest, but early signs of chocolate toxicity can include:
As the body metabolises the product (also dependent on how much chocolate that has been consumed), other symptoms arise and can present as:
- Muscle tremors
- Muscle weakness
- Blood in the urine
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Central nervous system hyperactivity OR depression
Animals presented to a clinic who have consumed the chocolate within a short period of time are treated by emesis. This is where vomiting is induced by administering a drug to the animal. All stomach contents are examined to estimate how much chocolate may have been consumed.
Gastric lavage and colonic enema under general anaesthesia may be required in patients with severe toxicity whom are unable to be treated with the removal of the stomach contents by emesis.
On-going care will vary between each case- how much chocolate had been consumed and how quickly treatment was sought. This may include hospital care, intravenous fluid therapy, urinary catheter placement, injectable and/or oral medications.
The table below shows an outline of how much chocolate/theobromine consumed, can cause an effect on an animal, though as little as 20mg/kg of theobromine can cause toxic affect and the animal should receive medical assistance.
Households will stock different products that contain varying levels of theobromine. The table below provides an outline of common products:
If your pet has consumed chocolate, a product that may contain theobromine or another questionable product, contact your vet immediately.