November 1, 2014

At Easter, Keep Cats Away from Lilies, Dogs Away from Chocolate

We cover food safety for animals at Food Poisoning Bulletin. The FDA is concerned bout them too, so are issuing a warning for cat and dog lovers about things that are common for Easter celebrations. Make sure that all member of your family stay safe. For humans, read our post about food safety and Easter eggs.

Cat and DogWhite lilies, a common household plant, are very toxic to cats. (Tiger lilies, day lilies, and lily of the valley are toxic to dogs.) Make sure, if you choose to have any for your house, that your cat does not eat or touch any part of the plants. The entire plant, including leaf, pollen, and flower, is toxic.

Symptoms of lily toxicity in cats include lethargy, vomiting, and loss of appetite. These symptoms will begin within a few minutes of eating any part of the plant. Kidney damage will result, leading to death. Early veterinary treatment is critical, so if you suspect your cat has gotten into a lily, even a few grains of pollen, get her to a vet immediately. If not treated, a cat will die within a week after eating lily parts or licking the pollen.

And chocolate is toxic to dogs (and cats too, although they don’t have a sweet tooth). Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound in the same family as caffeine, and theophylline, which is used to treat asthma. The minimum toxic theobromine dose in dogs ranges from 46 to 68 milligrams per pound. The FDA says that half of the dogs that eat 114 to 228 mg/lb or greater of theobromine will die.

Milk chocolate contains 44 mg of theobromine per ounce, so a small dog would have to eat 1 ounce per 1 pound of body weight of a milk chocolate bunny to die. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains; semisweet chocolate has 150 mg/ounce, and baking chocolate has 390 mg/ounce.

Signs of theobromine toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, restlessness, hyperactivity, urinating more, muscle spasms, and seizures. If you think your dog has eaten chocolate, call your vet immediately.

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