2.9 Million Pet Owners Risk Poisoning Their Four-Legged Friends with Chocolate Treats

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Over 2.9 million pet owners (10 per cent) are unwittingly running the risk of poisoning their pooches and moggies by regularly feeding them chocolate*, reveals research by Churchill Pet Insurance.

Consult your veterinarian without delay if your pet appears distressed, listless or in pain after eating

With households set to be filled with chocolate eggs this weekend, it can be all too tempting to offer a piece of chocolate to the family pet as a treat, but many pet owners do not appear to be aware that chocolate can be toxic to cats and dogs. Chocolate contains theobromine, and is one of the most common causes of poisonings to occur in dogs in the UK**.

Claire Foster, spokesperson for Churchill Pet Insurance, said: “We want to raise awareness of the dangers of feeding chocolate to the family pet this Easter, as there is a danger that some doting owners could end up harming their pets without realising it. We’d advise pet owners to keep their chocolate well out of the reach of hungry four-legged friends, and to be extremely cautious as even a small amount of chocolate could poison their pet.”

Nearly a fifth (18 per cent) of pet owners also tend to feed their pets with home-made human dinners, such as leftovers from the family meal, rather than pet food. However, many everyday ingredients can also prove to be poisonous to pets, as shown below:

Grapes and raisins - Can cause damage to kidneys and can be lethally toxic.
Green tomatoes - Can cause gastrointestinal upsets in cats.
Chicken bones - Though not toxic, chicken bones can get stuck in the roof of the mouth, throat and intestines, and should be avoided according to many veterinarians. Splinters of chicken bones can also become lodged internally.
Macadamia nuts - Can cause tremors and weakness in the hindquarters and can be toxic to dogs.
Onions - Can cause anaemia in dogs.

Claire Foster goes on to say: “Consult your veterinarian without delay if your pet appears distressed, listless or in pain after eating. However, treating pets that have eaten dangerous or poisonous food can be very costly, so make sure you have pet insurance in place to cover any unforeseen vet bills and to give you peace of mind in the event of your pet falling ill.”

Churchill’s Pet Insurance policies include the following:

  •     Cover per condition for vet fees up to a maximum of £3,000 under the Pet Insurance policy, and up to £1,500 towards injury under the Pet Emergency policy, for a total of 12 months.
  •     Pet bereavement counselling and legal help lines.

Optional additional cover includes:

  •     Up to £1,000 for advertising if your pet is stolen or strays.
  •     Cover towards the purchase price from death or loss of your pet.
  •     Up to £750 boarding fees if you have to stay in hospital.
  •     Holliday cancellation cover of up to £3,000 if you have to cancel or cut short a trip because your pet goes missing or needs unexpected life saving treatment.
  •     Up to £1m third party liability cover (applies to dogs only).

Notes to editors:

  • Research conducted online on behalf of Churchill by Opinium Research between 8th and 11th September 2009 amongst 2,006 respondents, representative of the UK adult population. There are 61m adults the UK (source: ONS). 47% of respondents are cat and dog owners which equates to 28.6m UK adults. 10% of pet owners feed their cats and dogs chocolate treats which equates to 2.867m UK adults.

** Source – http://www.vetrica.com

Founded in 1989, Churchill is now one of the UK's leading providers of general insurance, offering award-winning car, home, travel and pet insurance cover over the phone or on-line.

Churchill is part of RBS Insurance, the second largest general insurer in the UK and is wholly owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

Customers can find out more about Churchill products or get a quote by calling 0800 200300 or visiting http://www.churchill.com

Churchill Insurance Company Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Registered office: Churchill Court, Westmoreland Road, Bromley, Kent, BR1 1DP. Registered in England and Wales no.2258947. The Financial Services Authority's Register can be accessed through http://www.fsa.gov.uk/.

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