Dog owners are being warned to keep their pets’ paws away from chocolate this Easter after a little Chihuahua needed life-saving treatment.
Two-year-old Bailey tucked into a milk chocolate Easter egg – a tasty treat for humans but a potentially deadly snack for dogs.
Vets treat hundreds of chocolate poisoning cases in hospitals every year, and owners are urged to be vigilant.
Mother-of-five Tracy, from Chatham in England, said she knew something was desperately wrong when Bailey started acting strangely.
She is now sharing her experiences to help keep other pets safe.
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.”
Tracy (39) rang the vet immediately when the incident happened last year and they advised her to bring him straight in.
Bailey was rushed in as an emergency and given treatment to induce vomiting in a bid to stop any more of the toxins being absorbed.
His small breed size means that even small amounts of chocolate can be deadly.
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.
“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.”
Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which is toxic to dogs.
Signs a pet may have eaten chocolate can include: excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea, a tender tummy and restlessness.
These can then progress to tremors, an abnormal heart rhythm, raised body temperature and rapid breathing.
In small breeds like Bailey, the effects of chocolate poisoning can be extremely severe even if only a small amount is eaten.
In severe cases, chocolate poisoning in dogs can cause fits and even death. The higher the cocoa content of the chocolate, the more dangerous it is, so dark chocolate poses the biggest risk to pets.
Tracy said: “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 owners suspect their dog has ingested chocolate, they should call their local vet immediately and let them know the type of chocolate, how much they have eaten and when.
Other popular Easter foods that can also be toxic to pets, including hot cross buns as well as the dangers of some spring plants at this time of year, such as daffodils and lilies.
Vets advise owners to store chocolates and other potentially poisonous foods in the same way as medicines when they have pets in their household – safely and securely.