Protecting your dog from chocolate poisoning this Easter

by Irene Hislop

28 March 2019



Easter is a risky time for dogs. Their noses give them an edge at the Easter egg hunt. They can sniff out every chocolate egg that the children missed. But of course, those treats are poison to them. Chocolate can kill dogs. So how do you keep your furbaby safe while your children enjoy a festive egg hunt and the goodies the Easter bunny leaves for them?

First, we have to stress that chocolate is a real danger. The impact of chocolate poisoning varies according to the dog’s size and overall health as well as the type of chocolate. A large dog is more likely to survive a small bit of chocolate than a small dog is. Dark chocolate is the most dangerous. To understand the danger, it helps to know why chocolate is poisonous to dogs.

Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine. Their bodies do not process theobromine the way ours do. In dogs, theobromine can cause irregular heartbeat, tremors, seizures and heart attack. A mild case of chocolate poisoning might cause vomiting and diarrhoea, but a severe case is lethal. Other signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs include rapid breathing, rigid muscles, increased temperature and low blood pressure. Theobromine damages your dog’s health even if he survives chocolate poisoning. No amount of chocolate is safe for dogs. Candy is the obvious threat, but baking chocolate and cocoa power are also dangerous.  Even white chocolate contains theobromine.

What to Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate

If you have kids and a dog, you need to be prepared for this emergency. Of course, it is important to teach children from an early age never to share their treats with the dog. But accidents can happen. Your dog could even find a dropped piece of chocolate on the ground during a walk. You might find some evidence such as chocolate on his face or a wrapper in his dog bed or you might catch him in the act. Or a child might report to you that the dog robbed their chocolate. Call your vet immediately.
Your vet might instruct you to induce vomiting in your dog. It is a good idea to keep something on hand for this such as hydrogen peroxide and a syringe to get it into your dog’s mouth. This should only be done within two hours of the dog eating chocolate and with your vet’s advice. Never induce vomiting in an unconscious dog or one having seizures.

Tips for a Safe, Fun Family Easter

It is indeed possible to organise your family’s Easter celebrations so you can enjoy all the fun of the season while keeping your dog safe. The main idea is to keep your dog away from the chocolate. That’s not so hard on an ordinary day, but how can the Easter bunny hide chocolate eggs if your dog is waiting for a chance to rob them? If you want to have an egg hunt, you absolutely can. Here’s how.

  • Instead of hiding chocolate eggs, buy the plastic ones you can put things in.
  • Children can trade the eggs for chocolates after the egg hunt.
  • You can put non-chocolate treats in the eggs such as gummies, temporary tattoos or stickers.
  • Keep the dog well away from the children and the eggs during the hunt.
  • If the Easter bunny likes to hide eggs in the house, make sure the area where they are hidden is not accessible to the dog. If you have a dog crate, this is the night to use it. Or if you can lock your dog into the kitchen overnight so the Easter bunny can hide eggs in the sitting room, that works too.
  • Count the eggs before they are hidden so you can be sure they’ve all been found.
  • Remember it’s not all about the chocolate. Children also enjoy small toys such as bubbles, colouring books and sidewalk chalk in their Easter baskets.
  • Another option is to take the children to an organized egg hunt away from your home. The cost can be well worth the peace of mind, especially if you have a puppy at home.

Safe Easter Fun with Your Dog

It’s important to teach your dog that snatching food is a serious no-no. Children love to feed dogs treats, but they must learn not to share their food. Parents need to set a good example too, so as tempting as it is, never feed your dog from your food while you are eating. But of course, dogs deserve treats too! And you don’t have to leave them out at Easter time.

Why not let the children hide some treats for the dog to find? Low calorie options such as Connolly RED MILLS Leader Train Me Treats mean you can let your dog have more treats on a special occasion. Or you can choose treats that provide a real benefit to your dog such as Leader Nutri Vigor Skin & Coat Care or Leader Nutri Vigor Hip & Joint Care.

The Easter break is also a great time to get out walk more with your dog. Bring the family along, and you can show your children how to be responsible pet owners by feeding and exercising the dog appropriately.

Irene Hislop

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