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With Easter fast approaching and our own stash of Easter eggs getting bigger each day, vet charity PDSA has issued a warning after a chihuahua needed life-saving treatment after tucking into a chocolate Easter egg.
Two-year-old chihuahua Bailey became 'really lethargic', which was very strange behaviour for the poorly pooch. Mother-of-five Tracy from Chatman said she knew instantly something was desperately wrong.
"He became really lethargic and just wasn't himself," she explains. "Soon after I found torn up Easter egg foil with all the chocolate gone, so I knew he needed to be seen urgently.
"I'm very careful with chocolate around our dogs as I know it's poisonous for them, but my seven-year-old son had hidden an egg under a pillow thinking Bailey wouldn't be able to find it.
"I rang PDSA immediately and they advised me to bring him straight in."
Bailey was rushed in as an emergency case once he arrived at Gillingham PDSA Pet Hospital where vets have him treatment to induce vomiting in a bid to stop any more of the toxins being absorbed.
Because Bailey is a small dog even small amounts of chocolate can be deadly.
PDSA Senior Vet Soo Ming Teoh, said: "We estimated that Bailey had eaten about half an Easter egg, which is an extremely dangerous amount for a dog of his very small size, therefore we knew he was at risk of serious disturbances to his heart rhythm or even seizures.
"Thankfully he was brought in very quickly and we were able to give him life-saving treatment before too much of the toxin got into his system.
"He needed close monitoring and intravenous fluid support due to an increased heart rate, likely caused by the amount of chocolate he'd eaten.
"But after a few hours of observation and treatment he was able to go home with instructions to keep a close eye on him overnight."
The chemical theobromine which can be found in chocolate is toxic for dogs. If your dog shows excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea, a tender tummy and restlessness it could be a sign that they have ingested chocolate.
These symptoms can then progress to tremors, an abnormal heart rhythm, raised body temperature and rapid breathing. In small breeds like chihuahuas, the effects of chocolate poisoning can be extremely severe even if only a small amount is eaten.
Chocolate poisoning in dogs can cause fits and even death in the most severe cases. The higher the cocoa content in the chocolate, the more dangerous it is for a dog. Dark chocolate therefore poses the biggest risk to pets. The egg Bailey ate was made from milk chocolate, posing less of a risk of death.
Tracy wants to warn other pet owners about the dangers chocolate can pose to pets.
She said: "We're so grateful to all of the staff at PDSA. It was devastating when it all happened and I dread to think what would have happened to Bailey without them.
"It took him a little while to fully recover from his ordeal but thankfully he is back to his usual self now and we're keeping chocolate well out of reach so we don't have to go through this scary experience again."
If you think your dog has ingested chocolate, you should call their local vet immediately and let them know the type of chocolate, how much you think they have eaten and when.
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