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Death by Chocolate
As florists across the nation get ready for one of the biggest days of the year, many Australians will be waiting in anticipation for flowers or chocolates from their beloved. February 14th signals the romantics’ special day of the year; Valentine’s Day.
“No doubt many will be hoping for a bunch of flowers or a box of chocolates around this time of year,” Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia says. “However, like with all festive times, consideration must be taken for our beloved pets.”
Veterinarians across Australia will be bracing themselves for a possible increase in chocolate poisoning issues and intestinal blockages.
“Based on our own claims experience, we estimate over 10,000 Australian pets were treated for toxicity and poisoning during the month of February in 2016.”
Animal Referral Hospital (ARH) Emergency and Critical Care Specialist Dr Merrin Hicks agrees that prevention for chocolate poisoning needs to be carefully considered around this time of year.
“Chocolate is highly toxic to dogs (and cats), and all chocolate should be kept out of reach of pets,” She warns. “Even a small amount can be toxic, especially dark chocolate, as it contains theobromines which pets can’t metabolise like people do.”
“Dogs are natural scavengers and simply love to indulge in anything tasty,” Crighton says. “So around this time of year, it’s a good idea to remember to put your chocolates out of sight to prevent your dog, or cat, from getting sick.”
Dogs tend to ingest the entire box, including the wrappers, plastic and ribbon. “All of this can wreak havoc on their systems and cause your pet to become very ill.”
But why is Chocolate so very bad for our pets?
“It is made from roasting the seeds of the Theobroma Cacao, which contain two toxic properties for animals; caffeine and theobromine,” Crighton continues. “Ingesting these properties can be fatal for a companion animal.”
TOP FIVE TOXIC CLAIMS
- Toxin Exposure
“Chocolate poisoning is the most common form of claimed toxicity in Australia, so it’s very important that the message is out loud and clear about this dangerous and common household food,” Crighton says. “Baking or compound chocolate seems to be the worst as it contains more caffeine and theobromine. However, even milk chocolate can cause severe toxicity.”
Symptoms of chocolate poising include:
- High temperature
- Rapid breathing
- Abnormal behavior
- Muscle rigidity
- Increased heart rate
“Contact your local emergency centre or vet immediately if chocolate has been eaten,” Dr Merrin Hicks urges. “Symptoms can occur 1-4 hours after ingestion and may include tremors, vomiting and diarrhoea, panting and restlessness, among more serious effects including seizures and heart problems.”