Paws for thought over Easter dangers to dogs

With Easter and countless sweet treats just around the corner, we’re keen to remind dog owners of the potentially fatal consequences of allowing pets to get their paws on a chocolately feast.

While we know many dog owners are aware of the dangers posed to their pets of chocolate, we’re urging everyone with a furry friend in the house to be extra careful where they leave Easter eggs and other treats during the holiday period.

Chocolate contains theobromine, a substance which is extremely harmful to dogs as they struggle to metabolise it, so it builds up in their bodies to toxic levels.

If a dog is suffering from chocolate poisoning, they can display symptoms including hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhoea and fits.

Iain Fletcher, clinical director here at Spinney Hospital, is also urging dog owners to be aware of the potentially fatal damage xylitol, a sugar replacement, can cause.

He said: “In this day and age, when many people are striving to be healthier, they are seeking alternatives to sugar for their recipes and are increasingly using xylitol.

“But what can be perfectly healthy and good for us humans can result in the loss of a pet’s life, so I would urge dog owners to keep anything containing xylitol safely locked away.

“Of course, all chocolate and cocoa products should also be kept well out of the reach of dogs.

“Dark chocolate is the most dangerous as it has a higher cocoa content but milk chocolate is also a threat, as just a couple of small pieces can sometimes be enough to cause a problem.

“The first two hours after eating chocolate can be vital for a pet’s recovery, so it’s essential to call a vet immediately. The sooner a dog is seen and treated the better.

“Information is often key and knowing the type of chocolate, the amount eaten and even keeping the chocolate wrapper can all help, as the wrapper should tell us the amount of cocoa content in the treat.”

If you think your pet has eaten chocolate, please let us know as soon as possible.

Some of our top tips for keeping unwelcome paws away from chocolate treats include:

  • Keep chocolate products out of your dog’s reach at all times. Be especially careful at Easter and Christmas, when chocolate gifts may be left lying around in easy-to-reach spots.
  • Ensure you do not leave bars of chocolate lying around, or chocolate cakes cooling on the worktop unsupervised.
  • Make sure all of your bins are dog-proof so your pet can’t go scavenging for left-overs and treats.
  • We won’t mention the most obvious tip of NEVER giving your furry friend chocolate, as you already know that!