Just 50g of chocolate can be toxic and kill a dog. This was the pre- Christmas dinner warning from the RSPCA Qld’s Senior Veterinarian Dr Anne Chester.

“The problem is that the systems of cats and dogs cannot tolerate theobromine, one of key ingredients of chocolate,” says Dr Chester.”Theobromine can cause a range of problems in domestic animals because it triggers the release of adrenaline, which can lead to a greatly accelerated heart rate and an irregular heartbeat Pets can vomit, suffer diarrhoea and excessive urination and become hyperactive. This can be followed by depression, coma, seizures and death.”

“Onions can also be toxic”, she warned. “Even the small amounts contained on pizza slices. People often give their family pet the barbeque left overs and more often than not there are onions mixed in with the meat. For some dogs this can be a fatal oversight.”

Christmas of course has always been the season of good cheer and humans traditionally eat and drink, if not to excess, at least more than they would at other times of the year. With most pets considered part of the family, there’s a quite normal inclination to share the food with the family pet.

“The problem is that a sudden increase in fatty foods affects the animal’s pancreas and this can lead to pancreatitis,” Dr Chester continued. “Cooked bones can also cause major problems. They’re brittle and the sharp slivers can either lodge in the throat or pierce the stomach lining.”

Dr Chester emphasized that she was not trying to be melodramatic.

“We want everyone to have a very merry Christmas. But please! Think carefully before you feed your pets food designed for humans.”

For more animal care advice over Summer click here.