As we approach the Valentine’s and Easter holidays, the potential toxic side effects to our pets from our presents becomes more of a risk. While there are numerous human products that can be toxic to our furry companions (rat poison, human anti-inflammatories, raisins/grapes or gum that contains xylitol), we are going to be focusing on chocolate and Easter lilies.
Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest holidays for chocolate (aside from Halloween!), and dogs frequently fall prey to its temptations. Chocolate is toxic to dogs for two reasons: 1) caffeine and 2)theobromine. Theobromine is a chemical component of the chocolate plant. Initial signs of a chocolate overdose are due to the caffeine ingestion. Dogs become hyperactive, have increased thirst or urination, or develop vomiting and diarrhea. These can occur 2-4 hours after ingestion. The secondary toxic signs are due to theobromine ingestion. These signs include an increased heart rate, muscle rigidity, dilated pupils, or seizures. The type of chocolate ingested is very important in determining the potential toxicity. The darker the chocolate, the more cocoa it contains. This makes baking or extra dark chocolate the most toxic, and white chocolate the least. Fortunately, chocolate ingestion is such a common occurrence that we are able to calculate out potential side effects based on your pet’s weight and the amount/type of chocolate ingested. While avoidance is the best policy, if your dog does get into chocolate, please call us right away so we can determine if it is a problem or not!
While dogs tend to be a problem in terms of chocolate ingestion, it is the cat population that can’t seem to keep their mouths off Easter lilies! Both the leaves and flowers of the lily are toxic to cats, with as little as 2-3 leaves ingested have been shown to be lethal. We are not sure what the component is in the lily that makes it so toxic to our feline friends, but what we do know is if left undiagnosed or untreated it can be fatal. Lilies affect the ability of cats’ kidneys to function normally, and can lead to kidney failure. After ingestion cats show immediate signs of tummy upset by vomiting, which will subside in 2-4 hours. They then become depressed and lethargic, and can die within 24 hours if left untreated. Fortunately, as long as treatment is started within 12-24 hours of ingestion, cats typically make a full recovery. The treatment therapy is an in-hospital stay with IV fluids to help flush their systems and protect their kidneys. If during the Easter season you are at all concerned your cat may have chewed on your decorative flower arrangements, please call us right away!