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Spring has just arrived. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and the chocolate bunnies are hopping their way into our homes for Easter. Although we love the taste of chocolate, make sure your pets cannot get a hold of it.

Chocolate is toxic for dogs.Chocolate contains toxins called methylxanthines, such as theobromine and caffeine. The darker the chocolate, the greater chance of danger to our pets. As little as 2 oz of milk chocolate can cause illness such as vomiting or diarrhea in a 10-pound dog, and possibly even heart abnormalities. In contrast, 2 oz of semi-sweet chocolate is potentially fatal for the same dog without quick treatment. Vomiting and diarrhea could be seen in the same dog with as little as ½ oz of semi-sweet chocolate, or ¼ oz of baker’s (unsweetened) chocolate.

If you are worried that your pet may have eaten chocolate, call your veterinarian for guidance right away. Signs of chocolate toxicity include vomiting and/or diarrhea, increased thirst, excessive urination, panting, restlessness and increased heartrate. More severe cases would include muscle tremors, seizures and heart failure.

Depending on the situation, you might be advised to induce vomiting at home with a 50/50 mix of hydrogen peroxide and water (about 1 tsp per 10 pounds of body weight). However, if your pet is already showing some advanced signs and symptoms of poisoning (e.g. panting, seizures), DO NOT induce vomiting. Get emergency veterinary treatment at once.

Lilies can be deadly to cats.Another concern to be aware of this spring is the toxic effects of one of our most beloved springtime flowers, the lily. Day lilies, Easter lilies, stargazer lilies, Asiatic lilies, tiger lilies, and other plants that belong to the same family are extremely toxic to our cats. Some plants that have the name “lily” in them – such as lily-of-the-valley, peace lilies, calla lilies – may not cause the same toxicity as the others, but may cause other types of toxic effects.

All parts of the lily plant is toxic, but the flowers are the most toxic part. Even with small exposure to these plants, toxicosis can cause rapidly progressive kidney failure and necessitates immediate and aggressive therapy. Most cases of untreated lily intoxication can cause kidney failure within 12-36 hours and death within 3-5 days. However, ingestion of multiple flowers may even result in death within a few hours.

If you think your cat has nibbled on a lily plant – even if you are not noticing any adverse effects – call your veterinarian immediately!

Chocolate is one of our favorite springtime treats, and lilies are beautiful, but please be careful this spring to keep them both out of reach of our four-legged loved ones. If you have any questions, please give us a call at (804) 272-7544!