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Aussie vet’s little-known hack for dealing with common Easter mishap

Chocolate toxicity can have disastrous effects for dogs, but one Aussie vet has revealed a simple hack for assessing the damage.

While most Australians will spend the long weekend enjoying all the treats Easter has to offer – from hot cross buns to giant chocolate bunnies – vets across the country are bracing for a surge in pets being admitted after swallowing dangerous substances.

One Melbourne-based vet, Dr Nicole Rous, says a common mistake parents make over the Easter weekend is during the traditional egg hunt. Losing track of Easter eggs is one of the most prevalent ways dogs are able to snuffle up chocolate, which is toxic.

"It doesn't take much to leave a few eggs around and dogs are better at finding chocolate than the kids," Dr Nicole told Yahoo News Australia.

"It's not just them picking up off the bench. It's often the missing eggs from the Easter egg hunt. I think a lot of people forget about them."

Dr Nicole Rous holding packets of chocolate (left) to demonstrate chocolate toxicity and with her two pet dogs (right).
Dr Nicole Rous shared important information about chocolate toxicity for pet parents. Source: Supplied

Chocolate has a toxic compound called theobromine, as well as caffeine, which impacts a dog’s cardiovascular system. It causes symptoms like racing heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea and in severe cases, muscle tremors, seizures, and heart failure.

Pup ate 'entire pack of solid eggs'

One such patient of Dr Nicole's was a labrador puppy that got into an "entire multi-pack of little Cadbury chocolate eggs".

"It hadn't even taken the wrappers off- and that was beyond the toxic limit," said Dr Nicole. "This dog had eaten a good 12 pack of the solid eggs and not taken one wrapper off at all and vomited the whole lot up. It was this beautiful spectacle of shining colours everywhere."

While the dog made a full recovery, it left a trail of rainbow-coloured sick in its wake.

"More often than not, pet owners are pretty aware that they've eaten chocolate and we get onto it pretty quickly," she said.

Three-step hack for dealing with chocolate toxicity

Posting to social media, Dr Nicole shared her simple three-step hack for pet parents assessing chocolate toxicity.

Step 1 - Find out what type of chocolate.

Did the dog eat baking chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate or white chocolate? Cooking chocolate and dark chocolate is more toxic than white or milk, according to Dr Nicole.

Step 2 - Figure out how much chocolate they ate.

Dogs can withstand different amounts of chocolate toxicity depending on their weight. A chocolate toxicity calculator will help you calculate how dangerous the level of chocolate toxicity is and if it warrants a trip to the vet.

Step 3 - Take action.

According to Dr Nicole, if your dog has eaten a toxic amount, they will need to be taken to the emergency vet hospital where a drug called apomorphine is used, which induces vomiting.

Other easter dangers

Dr Nicole adds that another danger to pets is eating hot cross buns, because grapes and sultanas have a dangerous toxin called tartaric acid in them, which affects a dog's kidneys.

"Even eating one or two grapes in little dogs is so bad," she said. Dr Nicole adds that online calculators for grapes, sultanas and raisins are less reliable so it's best to take a pet straight to the vet.

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