With Easter just around the corner, vets are warning pet owners to be mindful of chocolate being left around the home.
Despite it being common knowledge that chocolate should not be eaten by dogs, a Wagga vet has said there is more to be aware regarding the issue.
Kiri Westphalen, who is a vet at Kooringal Veterinary Hospital, said it is not just dogs who are affected.
"The big thing to remember is that chocolate affects dogs and cats, it's just that cases are more commonly seen in dogs," she said.
According to Dr Westphalen there are two main causes of chocolate consumption by pets that they see in the Riverina around Easter.
"Most people are pretty good with it, but when we do see these cases, a lot of the time it's from when parents set up Easter egg hunts and some might be left behind that the dog can get to, or kids want to share with their pet not knowing the harm it can cause," she said.
The effects of chocolate consumption can range from minor to fatal, but Dr Westphalen said knowing the symptoms is essential for early detection.
"It will seem as though they have had six or seven double shot espressos, so the caffeine causes the problems, it's like an overdose of coffee," she said.
"They can have heart arrhythmias and neurological signs, and they'll either get very excited or the complete opposite with muscle tremors, seizures, and falling into a coma, so they can actually pass away."
Treating a pet for chocolate consumption is decided on a case by case basis, and according to Dr Westphalen, it is important to remember that darker chocolate varieties are more toxic than white chocolate.
"There's no specific treatment, we make them vomit up whatever they have ingested, and manage any symptoms thereafter," she said.
"Generally, they will be crook for a couple of days, but do quite well usually."
The key to a happy, safe Easter for the whole family, pets included, is to be aware of where chocolate is stored or left out, making sure it is not accessible by the four-legged residents.
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