Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Bunny Belly

Did you know?

Easter is over, but I bet there's still chocolate in your house. Let's suppose your sweet Lab puppy "Lucky" decides to play with the chocolate Easter Bunny and accidentally eats the whole thing. "Lucky" is no longer so lucky. If fact, depending on whether the bunny was white, milk, or dark chocolate, "Lucky" could become a very sick dog, and I'm not just talking about a tummy ache.

Let me tell you why!

Chocolate contains two ingredients, theobromine and caffeine, that are dangerous to dogs, cats, birds, rodents, and reptiles. Both act as a stimulant and can affect the gastrointestinal tract as well as multiple organs and, depending on the type and quantity consumed, can lead to seizures and even death. Poisoning is more common in dogs because of their propensity towards eating large quantities of unusual foods.

The three questions typically asked when a client calls about chocolate ingestion are: what kind of chocolate; how much chocolate; and how much does your dog weigh? The Merck Veterinarian Manual states "One ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight is a potentially lethal dose in dogs." This might seem like a lot of chocolate, but consider that theobromine levels in semi-sweet chocolate can be five times the amount found in milk chocolate. That 35 ounces of milk chocolate needed for toxicity in a 35 pound dog is reduced to 7 ounces of semi-sweet or dark chocolate. It would only take 3-5 ounces of baker's chocolate to be deadly to the same dog.

There is no antidote for chocolate poisoning. Even if "Lucky" hasn't consumed a toxic dose of chocolate it may still be advisable to bring him in to induce vomiting to remove as much of the theobromine and caffeine from his system as possible, especially if the consumption is recent. In addition, activated charcoal may be administered to absorb the two toxins from the stomach and IV fluids can help decrease dehydration, flush internal organs, and increase urination, the only other way to rid the toxins from the body. For higher levels of ingestion the Veterinarian will also monitor for heart irregularities. Even if the dose is not toxic the fat and sugar content of the chocolate may also lead to vomiting and diarrhea, an unpleasant side effect. We recommend a call to your family vet, or to our animal ER, to ask more questions should you suspect chocolate consumption by your pet.

The moral of the story...don't let the chocolate Easter bunny get cozy with your pets.

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