It’s that time of year again! The first flowers are popping out of the ground after a long, cold winter, and it is a welcome sight! While we are enjoying the first flush of spring and many of us are preparing for Easter Festivities such as Easter Egg hunts and Easter dinner, it’s also a great time to remind ourselves of how these festivities can affect our Furry Family Members.
Easter presents some surprising risks to our Pets, here are a couple of things to consider this Easter:
Did you know that Easter Lilies are extremely toxic to cats?
Easter lilies and other lilies can be toxic to cats, causing kidney failure and death. All parts of the lily can be toxic, and eating just one leaf can result in severe poisoning. After eating a portion of an Easter lily, a cat will generally vomit and become depressed within 2 hours. The vomiting may subside, but the cat will not eat and continue to become more depressed.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if you know or suspect your cat has eaten any part of an Easter lily. Your veterinarian will start treatment that includes causing the cat to vomit by giving an emetic, administering activated charcoal and a cathartic (stimulates bowel movements), and giving subcutaneous or intravenous fluids. A cat must be treated within 18 hours of ingesting the plant, or the damage to the kidneys will be irreversible.
Other lilies which belong to this same plant species and are also toxic include:
• Tiger Lilies
• Rubrum Lilies
• Japanese Showy Lilies
• Calla Lilies
• Other Bulb Plants such as Daffodils, Tulips and the Crocus
Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs
Chocolate is toxic to dogs (and cats!). While rarely fatal, chocolate ingestion can result in significant illness. Chocolate is toxic because it contains a chemical called theobromine, as well as caffeine. Theobromine is the predominant toxin in chocolate and is very similar to caffeine. Both compounds are also used medicinally as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator, and a smooth muscle relaxant. Dogs cannot metabolize theobromine and caffeine as well as people can. This makes them more sensitive to the chemicals’ effects.
How much chocolate is poisonous to a dog?
The amount of toxic theobromine varies with the type of chocolate. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to dogs. Baking chocolate and gourmet dark chocolate are highly concentrated and contain 130-450 mg of theobromine per ounce, while conventional milk chocolate only contains about 44-58 mg/ounce. White chocolate barely poses any threat of chocolate poisoning with only 0.25 mg of theobromine per ounce of chocolate (that said, dogs can still get sick from all that fat and sugar, which can cause pancreatitis). To put this in perspective, a medium-sized dog weighing 50 pounds would only need to eat 1 ounce of baker’s chocolate, or 9 ounces of milk chocolate, to potentially show signs of poisoning. For many dogs, ingesting small amounts of milk chocolate is not harmful.
What are the clinical signs of chocolate poisoning?
Clinical signs depend on the amount and type of chocolate ingested. For many dogs, the most common clinical symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea, increased thirst, panting or restlessness, excessive urination, and a racing heart rate. In severe cases, muscle tremors, seizures, and heart failure can be seen. In older pets that eat a significant amount of high quality dark or baking chocolate, sudden death from cardiac arrest may occur, especially in dogs with pre-existing heart disease. When in doubt, immediate treatment by your veterinarian is warranted if a poisonous amount of chocolate is ingested.
Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning can take several hours to develop and can last for days, due to the long half-life of theobromine. The theobromine can even be re-absorbed from the bladder, so IV fluids and frequent walks to encourage urination may be necessary. It is essential to seek medical attention by calling your veterinarian as soon as you suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate.
What is the treatment for chocolate poisoning?
Treatment depends on the amount and type of chocolate eaten. If treated early, removal of the chocolate from the stomach by administering medications to induce vomiting and administration of activated charcoal to block absorption of theobromine into the body may be all that is necessary. It is very common to provide supportive treatments such as intravenous fluid therapy to help stabilize your dog and promote theobromine excretion. All dogs ingesting chocolate should be carefully monitored for any signs of agitation, vomiting, diarrhea, nervousness, irregular heart rhythm, and high blood pressure.
Source: Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
Article based on information written by Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT, Associate Director of Veterinary Services, Pet Poison Helpline
Written by Andy Lumanta, VA