Keep your dog safe this Easter

Keep your dog safe this Easter

Posted by PetDirect on 7th Apr 2022

Easter is right around the corner and that often means chocolate - dark, white, melted, egg-shaped, bunny-shaped - and don't forget those hot cross buns! But did you know that chocolate and hot cross buns can be harmful to dogs?

So before you send the kids on an chocolate egg hunt this year, make sure your pup is contained somewhere safe like a crate or play pen with their very own pet safe treat. It’s also best to ensure that all Easter treats are found, or put away, before they are let out. Dogs keen sense of smell will mean they hunt out any stray chocolatey treats left behind.

Easter treats to keep away from pets

Chocolate and dogs do not go together. The toxic compounds in chocolate for dogs are theobromine and caffeine, and their level of toxicity depends on the size of the dog, how much they ate and what type of chocolate is eaten.

  • White chocolate contains low levels of caffeine and/or theobromine and therefore is not as toxic. However, dogs can still develop an upset stomach or diarrhoea.
  • Milk chocolate does contain caffeine and theobromine and is more toxic than white chocolate, but less toxic than dark chocolate.
  • Baking chocolate contains the highest level of toxic compounds and is the most lethal of all. If you're thinking of baking chocolate hot cross buns, make sure they stay out of reaach from your dogs!

While eating chocolate in dogs is rarely fatal, the potential for life-threatening poisoning still exists. It does depend on the amount and type of chocolate eaten as well as the size of the dog.

Hot cross buns should also be kept away from dogs and cats. All grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas that can be found in hot cross buns can be poisonous to dogs and cats too leading to upset stomachs. The dried versions of the fruits are more frequently associated with severe symptoms such as kidney failure. Some hot cross without dried fruit may also contain chocolate chips which is also toxic as mentioned above.

Instead, grab some dog treats and a treat stuffers or interactive toy to keep your dog busy in their crate, play pen, or separate room while you bake your hot cross buns and have an egg hunt.

Other sweets contain Xylitol, an artifical sweetner that is very harmful to dogs even in the smallest amount. Keep all sweet Easter treats away from dogs, and ensure they are locked away before letting your dog out.

Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

If a dog eats chocolate, it can cause life-threatening heart arrhythmias and dysfunction of the nervous system. It can also have a diuretic effect and cause an upset stomach. Signs of chocolate poisoning and raisin poisoning can take anywhere from 6-12 hours after ingestion to occur. The chocolate has to be metabolised by the liver before affecting the rest of the body. In severe cases, coma or death can occur. The problem is made worse by the fact that the toxic compounds continuously recirculate through the blood so symptoms can last hours or even days.

Signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs can include:

  • tremors or seizures
  • stiffness
  • fainting
  • blue gums
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • hyperactivity
  • agitation
  • drooling
  • pacing
  • dilated pupils
  • excessive drinking and/or urinating
  • fast heart rate

If your dog eats chocolate or dried raisins/sultanas, call your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinary care team will need to know the type of chocolate or food consumed, how much you think your dog ate, and approximately when it was eaten. Try to provide as much information as possible.

Treatment

Treatment consists of detoxification and supportive care. If your dog has just eaten chocolate, then your veterinarian will give them medication to make them vomit, administer activated charcoal to absorb any toxins left in the GI tract and then monitor for any clinical signs.

If your dog is already showing signs, then they will likely need hospitalisation with supportive care, such as intravenous fluids, body temperature control, medication to control seizures and medication and/or monitoring for any heart abnormalities.

If you think your dog or cat has eaten chocolate or raisins, contact your vet immediately.

Pet safe treats

If you want to include your dogs in an Easter egg hunt, check out our blog on How to have an Easter Egg Hunt for your dog in 4 easy steps. Or grab a puzzle or enrichment toy and mix it up with different flavours like peanut or carob to keep them busy during egg hunts. You can even make your own doggy biscuits for them.

Feel free to call our Pet Experts on 0800 200 240 for recommendation of treats for your dog.

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