Keeping your dog safe at Easter

Jack Russell holding a carrot in his mouth and wearing bunny ears for Easter

Easter is an enjoyable time of the year, often filled with food, flowers and festivities! Many of us look forward to eating chocolate (often a little too much!) and growing new plants. Whilst a little too much chocolate for us may simply increase our waistline, for dogs, it has the potential to cause serious illness and even be fatal. In this blog, we share some of the most common problems to look out for with your dog over Easter.

The dangers of chocolate

Chocolate eggs are synonymous with Easter and of course, nothing beats an Easter egg hunt! They will look interesting and smell delicious to your dog but chocolate is toxic to dogs because it contains theobromine and to a lesser extent, caffeine. Although humans are easily able to digest theobromine, dogs process theobromine and caffeine slowly which allows these compounds to build up in their systems and become toxic.

Dark chocolate contains the highest amount of theobromine and caffeine, which makes it very dangerous for dogs. White chocolate has the least amount of these ingredients, and milk chocolate is in between the two.

Chocolate Easter eggs

Signs of chocolate poisoning

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Increased drinking
  • Restlessness
  • Stomach upset and increased toileting
  • A high heart rate
  • In severe cases, an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia), seizures and breathing difficulties

The signs of chocolate poisoning can take between 4 – 24hrs to appear.

What to do if you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate

If you think your dog has eaten chocolate, even a small amount, call your vet immediately – speed is of the essence! They will need to know an estimation of the amount eaten, the type of chocolate consumed and the size/weight of your dog. From this information, your vet will be able to provide accurate advice about what you need to do next – you may be asked to monitor your dog from home or take your dog to be seen by the vet as a matter of urgency.

How to prevent your dog from eating chocolate

  • Keep chocolate out of reach of dogs
  • If you set up an Easter egg hunt for your children in your home or garden, make sure that you make a note of where they are all hidden, and that none are left behind for your dog to sniff out later
  • Never be tempted to share your chocolate with your dog
  • Young children may be unaware of the dangers of chocolate to dogs – to ensure they don’t share their chocolate, take the time to teach them that it can make their beloved dog poorly and remind them never to feed it to them
  • Provide dog-friendly treats as an alternative

Other Easter dangers to look out for

Easter hot cross buns

Hot cross buns – these contain raisins and sultanas which are also toxic to dogs. Even just a small quantity of these dried fruits can cause severe kidney failure so take particular care to keep hot cross buns out of sight and out of reach of sniffing noses!

Flowers – quite a few springtime favourites can be harmful to your dog. Daffodil bulbs, if ingested, can be toxic so keep an eye out if your dog is digging around flowers. Other springtime blooms that can be dangerous to dogs are bluebells, hyacinth, iris, lilies, and tulips.

Easter is a time for the whole family to enjoy and although the advice in this blog may help to prevent harm to your dog, accidents can still happen. If you suspect your dog has ingested chocolate or any other harmful substance, contact your vet immediately.