Vets have delivered an urgent warning for dog owners as their pets risk poisoning during the Easter holiday season. As families prepare egg hunts for their children, they risk harming dogs, who can have fatal reactions to chocolate. Experts have warned people to ensure sweet treats are out of reach and to prepare alternatives for their canine companions.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Linda Simon, an in-house Veterinary surgeon at Pooch & Mutt, said chocolate contains chemicals dogs cannot digest.
She said: “Chocolate is poisonous for dogs, as it contains theobromine and caffeine, two stimulants that dogs cannot efficiently metabolise, so ingesting even a small amount can make them quite unwell.
“As we know, dogs have an incredible sense of smell, so it wouldn’t take them long to sniff out any hidden chocolate, most likely beating the kids to it.”
Dr Simon added that chocolate poisoning in dogs presents with several hallmark symptoms.
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She said: “If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate or any other potentially harmful substance, watch for symptoms of poisoning, such as vomiting, diarrhoea, increased thirst and restlessness.
“In the unfortunate event that your dog ingests some chocolate, it’s important to contact your veterinarian immediately and to take them to your veterinary clinic, where they will advise and act upon the next steps.”
People must keep chocolate “out of reach” in a “secure place, such as a high shelf or a locked cabinet, where your dog can’t access it”.
Owners must also ensure they don’t involve the animals in Easter egg hunts.
Dr Simon said: “While you should encourage dogs to run and play in the garden, an Easter egg hunt is one garden activity we should ensure they sit out on.
“Making sure your dog doesn’t have access to chocolate eggs is very important.”
Storing chocolate away from dogs and preventing their involvement in the Easter festivities may mean they feel left out of the excitement.
Dr Simon said they can still join the fun and have their own treats with the rest of the family.
She said: “Instead of chocolate, offer your dog special treats made specifically for dogs, such as dog-friendly Easter cookies or treats.
“If you want to involve your dog in the Easter games, then hide some of your dog’s favourite treats around the garden once the chocolate hunt is over and let them sniff them out.
“Not only is this one way to stop them from feeling left out, but it is a great source of mental stimulation that can help control stress and curb unwanted behaviours.”
Once the hunt is over, she added, people should comb their garden and search for “forgotten chocolate” before they allow any dogs back in the garden unsupervised.