Published: 09:52, 30 March 2021
| Updated: 10:33, 30 March 2021
While many of us will be tucking into a feast of Easter eggs this weekend, dog owners have been warned to make sure their stash is kept away from prying paws.
Chocolate that humans eat is poisonous to canines as chihuahua Bailey, from Chatham, almost found to his peril.
The two-year-old dog needed life-saving treatment from vets after he ate tore open a milk chocolate egg and wolfed it down.
Pet charity PDSA vets treat hundreds of sick dogs after eating chocolate every year and Bailey's owner Tracey has joined them to help issue a warning to fellow dog-lovers.
Tracy, 39, suspected something was wrong with Bailey after she saw him behaving strangely and later found the foil to a large Cadbury egg ripped open and all the chocolate inside gone.
She said: “He became really lethargic and just wasn’t himself.
“Soon after I found torn-up Easter egg foil with all the chocolate gone, so I knew he needed to be seen urgently.
"I’m very careful with chocolate around our dogs as I know it’s poisonous for them, but my seven-year-old son had hidden an egg under a pillow thinking Bailey wouldn’t be able to find it.”
Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which is toxic to dogs and in a breed as small as Bailey even the smallest amount can prove fatal.
The higher the cocoa content of a chocolate, the greater the risk to dogs meaning dark chocolate is particularly dangerous.
Tracy immediately phoned PDSA and rushed Bailey to the charity's animal hospital in Gillingham following the incident at their home last year.
He was taken in as an emergency and put on a treatment to induce vomiting to stop any more toxins being released into Bailey's body.
PDSA senior vet Soo Ming Teoh said: “We estimated that Bailey had eaten about half an Easter egg, which is an extremely dangerous amount for a dog of his very small size, therefore we knew he was at risk of serious disturbances to his heart rhythm or even seizures.
"He became really lethargic and just wasn’t himself. I knew he needed to be seen urgently..."
"Thankfully he was brought in very quickly and we were able to give him life-saving treatment before too much of the toxin got into his system.
“He needed close monitoring and intravenous fluid support due to an increased heart rate, likely caused by the amount of chocolate he’d eaten.
“But after a few hours of observation and treatment, he was able to go home with instructions to keep a close eye on him overnight.”
Owners are advised to keep an eye out for various symptoms of chocolate poisoning.
PDSA say these include excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea, tender tummy and restlessness.
Vets warn these can worsen to tremors, abnormal heart rhythm, increased body temperature and rapid breathing.
In the worst cases the toxins released can cause fits and death.
Tracy added: “We’re so grateful to all of the staff at PDSA. It was devastating when it all happened and I dread to think what would have happened to Bailey without them.
“It took him a little while to fully recover from his ordeal but thankfully he is back to his usual self now and we’re keeping chocolate well out of reach so we don’t have to go through this scary experience again.”
If an owner suspects their dog has eaten chocolate, they are advised to contact a vet immediately and tell them the type of chocolate eaten, quantity and when.
Other popular Easter foods can also prove harmful to dogs such as hot cross buns and some spring plants such as daffodils and lilies can be poisonous.
Pet owners are advised to store chocolates safely and securely like they would medicines from children.
For more information and advice visit: www.pdsa.org.uk/poisons.