31 Pembury Road, Tonbridge, TN9 2JA

Priory Lodge Vets in Tonbridge is urging pet owners to keep chocolate treats safely away from their pets’ reach this Easter, as findings released by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) reveal that in the South East 74% of vets saw at least one case of chocolate poisoning in pets over Easter holidays in 2017.

Chocolate can be highly poisonous to pets, with dogs most commonly affected. It contains theobromine, a naturally occurring chemical found in cocoa beans, which, while fine for humans, is harmful to dogs and other animals. The level of toxicity is dependent on the type of chocolate – dark chocolate and cocoa powder is most toxic – and the size of the dog, with smaller dogs and puppies being most at risk.

Although awareness about chocolate poisoning is increasing amongst pet owners, BVA’s figures show that the majority of vets still see urgent cases because chocolate treats have not been secured out of reach.

British Veterinary Association President John Fishwick said:

“Easter is great fun for the whole family, but chocolate treats for humans can be poisonous for our pets. Dogs have a keen sense of smell and can easily sniff out chocolate, so make sure it is stored securely out of reach of inquisitive noses to avoid an emergency trip to the vet."

“If you suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate don’t delay in contacting your local vet. Your vet will want to know how much chocolate your dog has eaten and what type. If possible, keep any labels and have the weight of the dog to hand.”

The effects of chocolate poisoning in dogs usually appear within 12 hours and can last up to three days. First signs can include excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea and restlessness. These symptoms can then develop into hyperactivity, tremors, abnormal heart rate, hyperthermia and rapid breathing. In severe cases, dogs can experience fits and heartbeat irregularities and some cases can result in coma or death.

For more information on pets and poisons download the free Animal Welfare Foundation ‘pets and poisons’ leaflet at www.bva-awf.org.uk/pet-care-advice/pets-and-poisons.