Over half of UK vets treated pets for chocolate poisoning in 2014
Over 50 per cent of UK vets treated pets for chocolate poisoning last Easter, figures released by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) reveal.
BVA's Voice of the Veterinary profession survey, which ran from 7 May - 8 June 2014, showed that 54 per cent of UK vets had treated at least one case of chocolate poisoning over Easter 2014.
Seven practices said that they had treated 10 cases each.
Chocolate can be highly poisonous to pets, but dogs are most commonly affected. Although pet owners are becoming increasingly more aware of the dangers, the BVA figures demonstrate that the majority of vets still see urgent cases because chocolate treats have not been kept out of reach.
Chocolate is toxic because fit contains theobromine - a naturally occurring chemical found in cocoa beans which dogs and other animals excrete much less effectively than humans. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder is higher in toxicity than other types. It can be harmful to all dogs, but smaller dogs and puppies are most at risk.
The effects of chocolate poisoning in dogs usually appear within 12 hours and can last up to three days. Some of the first signs include excessive thirst, diarrhoea vomiting and restlessness. These symptoms can later develop onto tremors, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rate, hyperthermia and rapid breathing. In very severe case, dogs may experience fits and heartbeat irregularities,and some cases can result in coma or death.
BVA President John Blackwell said: “Easter should be a happy time for all the family including loved pets, and BVA urges pet owners to take precautions to ensure that their pet does not become one of the thousands of cases treated for accidental chocolate poisoning, which tragically can sometimes be fatal. The majority of the cases we see are because a pet has accidentally managed to get access to chocolate despite the owner’s best intentions.
“It’s worth remembering that dogs in particular have a keen sense of smell and will easily win at any Easter egg hunt. So wherever chocolate is being stored over Easter – inside or outside – make sure it is pet proof and stored out of reach of inquisitive and determined noses and paws to avoid an emergency trip to the vet at Easter.
“If you suspect that your dog has ingested chocolate don’t delay in contacting your vet. The quicker we can offer advice and treatment, the better. Vets 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.
“Make sure you know how to contact your vet out of hours and over the bank holiday weekend when opening hours may be different. If you are away from home, use the RCVS’s Find a Vet online service to find a veterinary practice in an emergency.”