Spring is a great time of year for the whole family, but chocolate can be toxic and even deadly for animals. Dogs are most commonly affected as they are renowned for having a ‘sweet tooth’.
The most common symptoms of chocolate ingestion are seen within the first 12 hours and can include:
Diarrhea and/or vomiting
Excitement or trembling that may be perceived as nervousness
Excessive thirst and occasionally excessive urination
Death (rare but if death occurs it is usually as a result of heart rhythm abnormalities).
Chocolate is toxic to dogs and another animal because they are unable to break down a chemical component in it known as Theobromine effectively. If you suspect that your pet has ingested chocolate then you should immediately contact your veterinarian for advice.
Dogs release excess heat through their paw pads and by panting. Unfortunately, animals with brachycephalic (flat) faces such as pugs and Persian cats are unable to pant as effectively due to their shortened nasal passages. This makes them more vulnerable to heatstroke and dehydration.
Dehydration is a major concern for all animals in summer. Ensure that you regularly offer plenty of cool water to your pet and that there is somewhere shady for them to rest. You should also keep them indoors during the hottest part of the day.
If you cannot place the back of your hand on to the sidewalk and hold it there for more than 5 seconds without it becoming painful then it will be too hot for your pets paws and you should avoid letting them outside until it has cooled.
Antifreeze can also leak out of overheating cars. See our advice on antifreeze in the ‘winter’ section above.
Don’t forget sunscreen! It is possible to buy specialist pet sunscreen to protect your pet from the summer sun. It is especially important to apply to pets with short fine hair and pink skin. You must never use any sunscreen that is not designed specifically to be used on animals. Speak to your veterinarian about the sunscreen that is right for your pet.
If you take your dog to a river, lake, pool or the beach to cool off then be very vigilant of their safety in the water.