Avoiding un-eggs-pected visits to the vet this Easter


It’s a time of year when chocolate treats are in abundance but, if they get into the wrong paws, even just a small amount can be dangerous to our pets.

PDSA is warning pet owners to keep chocolate safely away from prying paws this Easter. Research for the PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report found an estimated 93,000 dogs* in the UK are fed human chocolate as a treat at least once a month, despite it being toxic and potentially life-threatening.

Sadly, vets see many pets in need of emergency treatment after falling victim to the harmful effects of theobromine – a compound in human chocolate which doesn’t affect us, but which is poisonous to our four-legged friends. The high sugar content of chocolate is not good for pets’ waistlines or teeth either, contributing to obesity and dental disease.

Cocoa powder and high-quality dark chocolates, which often contain the largest cocoa solids content, pose the biggest risk to dogs. A small bar of dark chocolate could contain enough theobromine to fatally poison a small dog such as a Yorkshire Terrier. As little as a tablespoon of cocoa could cause serious neurological problems to most small breeds.

The effects of chocolate poisoning in dogs usually appear within four hours of eating and can last as long as 24 hours. If you know your pet has eaten chocolate, it‘s important to call your vet straight away so they can start treatment before any signs appear.

Signs and symptoms to look out for include:

  • Excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea, a tender tummy and restlessness.
  • Unsteadiness, tremors an abnormal heart rhythm, raised body temperature and rapid breathing
  • In severe cases, dogs can experience fits, kidney failure or even death.

Other popular Easter goodies such as raisins, peanuts and coffee beans are also dangerous to pets, due to the potentially lethal chemicals they contain which can harm animals.

Store chocolates out of reach, safely and securely when you have pets in your household. If you can’t resist giving them a little Easter treat, make sure it is something pet-friendly, suitable and safe. A new toy or a nice long walk is a very good alternative.

Know what to do if your pet becomes seriously ill or unwell – download PDSA’s free Pet First Aid Guide.

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. 

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