During the Easter Holiday there can be some increased risks for our pets in our homes.
Chocolate toxicity seems to have wormed itself into our collective consciousness as the biggest risk to pets since the chicken bone. In reality, it takes a pretty large amount of milk chocolate to make a dog sick, and even more to cause life-threatening medical issues. But it can happen. This rarely is a problem for cats as they seem less attracted to chocolate.
There’s a great deal of variation between individual dogs in terms of how susceptible they are to chocolate. The concentration of the toxin (known as theobromine, a cousin of caffeine) varies quite a bit between chocolates; dark chocolate is worse for dogs than milk chocolate, and unsweetened or baker’s chocolate is the most toxic. In general it takes about a kg of milk chocolate per 20 kgs of body weight to consider it a potential problem.
A bigger fear during around Easter is the lily. This is a serious source of toxicity for cats and ( less so ) for dogs.
Every part of the plant — leaves, stems, petals — are a serious risk to your cat’s health. Even a small amount of pollen or the water in the vase can cause life-threatening medical issues. It is thought that just a few bites of the stem of some lilies can be life threatening for a cat. The damage is done to the kidneys, and death can occur as soon as one to two days after ingestion.
Lily toxicosis is treatable if is caught very early: the cutoff for success is about 18 hours after ingestion. Beyond that point, the chance of treating kidney failure from lilies becomes quite remote. Treatment involves stopping further absorption (usually through making them vomit) and then IV fluid therapy for a few days to help flush the toxic metabolites from the pet’s body. Lab tests tell us how successful therapy has been.
Over Easter, make sure your pets have no access to chocolate, lilies or any other hazardous household substance.
Everyone at GVH wishes you and your family a safe and happy Easter Holiday.
Dr. Tom Honey