Easter and chocolate are a match made in heaven, but while the sweet stuff is non-negotiable for us, when it comes to our pets, we need to proceed with caution. With sweet treats more likely than ever to be in the house, read on to find out just how much chocolate would poison your pooch, when to call the vet and what actually happens if your dog ingests a chunk or two.
Why is chocolate dangerous to pets?
While rarely fatal, the chemicals in chocolate can make our pets very ill. This is down to theobromine and caffeine: two components that are toxic to cats and dogs. The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of these. And while you shouldn’t give your furry friend white chocolate either (as it’s full of sugar and fat), the milk and dark varieties are far more dangerous.
Depending on the amount ingested, symptoms may range from relatively mild (like restlessness, diarrhoea or vomiting) to severe, like tremors and fits. Smaller dogs are at a higher risk of experiencing complications since their body weight is lower.
Other Easter treats I should be mindful of?
Yes, the dried fruit found in some cakes and pastries (like hot cross buns) are very toxic to kitties and pups. So much so that even a few raisins, currants, sultanas or grapes can cause kidney failure, especially in dogs.
Some spring flowers like daffodils and tulips can also be highly poisonous to pets. Just keep this in mind if your dog likes to dig around the garden or chew on random things (don’t they all?).
What should I do if my pet has eaten any of these things?
While cats don’t tend to have a sweet tooth, dogs’ love of sweets is well known! Prevention is key here, so it’s always sensible to store chocolate treats and dried fruit away from curious pets.
If your dog has ingested a few chocolate drops or a bit of chocolate biscuit, this is unlikely to cause any harm. But be sure to monitor them closely for any unusual signs.
For larger quantities of chocolate as well as any amount of dried fruit (or the bulbs of flowers mentioned earlier) your pet could be in more serious danger, so we recommend seeing a vet straight away. Again, smaller dogs are more susceptible to toxicity (just 25 grams of chocolate could be enough to poison a 20-kg dog).
Are there any pet-friendly alternatives?
Lots! Cat and dog snacks abound, and they are as delicious to our pets (if not more) as human treats. The ingredients in these treats are carefully selected for their texture, nutritional value and aroma so that pets will instinctively be drawn to them.
And if you’d like to give your canine friend a special, home-made treat, try this recipe.
Carob chip cookies for dogs
- 1.5 cups brown rice flour
- 1.5 cups oat flour
- 3/4 cup carob chips
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup water
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Combine all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and use a spatula or large spoon to fold over the dough until moistened throughout. Continue until you have a stiff, dry dough. Roll and shape your little biscuits (you can use cookie cutters to create fun shapes). Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
With treats now sorted for every member of the family (furry ones included), there’s no feeling guilty that someone in the group is missing out. Happy Easter!