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Beware the Easter bunny!

Chocolate is not only toxic to dogs but also cats,

rodents and rabbits.

The toxic component in chocolate is a substance called


. The severity of the poisoning depends on the

amount and the type of chocolate ingested. Dark chocolate is

more toxic than milk chocolate, whereas white chocolate is

relatively non-toxic. Symptoms of chocolate

poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration,

hyperactivity and a rapid heart rate. In extreme cases

convulsions (fits) can occur, and liver damage may develop in

the longer term. So, do take care to keep the products of your

Easter egg hunt under wraps, and well away from your pets!



Pebbles the cat was presented to Noella Cooper, one of

Willows’ general practice vets, one evening last Autumn.

Pebbles’ owner had noticed that her breathing had

been very laboured throughout that day. Pebbles

was very depressed and not feeling herself at all. On

examining Pebbles, Noella found that she had some

lacerations on her tongue and a very wheezy sounding

chest, although the cause of Pebbles’ noisy breathing

was not immediately apparent. Noella was concerned,

and admitted Pebbles to the hospital for further

investigations that evening. An X-ray of her chest

revealed that Pebbles had a pebble or stone lodged in

her windpipe (the trachea) – in other words she had

breathed in the stone, and it was a minor miracle that

she had not choked on it. The lacerations on Pebbles’

tongue may have been the result of her scratching at

herself in an attempt to dislodge the stone, after she

had accidentally inhaled it. It was evident that the

stone certainly could not be left where it was, and

that it required urgent removal.

Professor RobWhite, one of Willows’ soft tissue surgery

Specialists, was on call that night and he was able to

use fluoroscopy (moving X-rays) to visualise the stone

whilst Pebbles was anaesthetised. He then carefully

inserted some special long-handled forceps into Pebbles’

windpipe to grasp and successfully remove the stone.

She made a good recovery and is now back to normal.

We will probably never know how Pebbles came to inhale

her pebble, but we do think she deserves a prize for being

the most appropriately named patient we saw at Willows

in 2014!

An X-ray of Pebbles’ chest showing a pebble or

stone lodged in her windpipe (the trachea)

Long-handled forceps

inserted into Pebbles’

windpipe to grasp and

remove the stone using

fluoroscopy (moving X-rays)

Pebbles at home after

her operation