Just 50g of chocolate can be toxic and kill a dog. Once again this is the Easter warning from the RSPCA Qld’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Anne Chester.

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 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 heart beat Pets can vomit, suffer diarrhoea and excessive urination and become hyperactive. This can be followed by depression, coma, seizures and death. Obviously then, people should remember to keep their trays of Easter eggs away from the opportunistic family pooch.

But chocolate is not the only potential health hazard around at Easter.

“Onions can also be toxic”, she warned. “Even the small amounts contained on pizza slices. The fatty foods in barbeque left overs can affect the animals’ pancreas and lead to pancreatitis. 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 enjoy the Easter break. But please! Think carefully before you feed your pets food designed for humans-especially chocolate!”