Keeping Dogs safe at Easter
Dogs and Easter Celebrations
Easter can be a fun time for all of us, including our dogs. It can, however, be a time of danger for our furry family members too. However, armed with a little knowledge, some preparation and management, we can safely celebrate Easter with them.
A Little Easter History
Easter marks the Christian commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion and, for some, marks the end of Lent. In medieval times, eggs were forbidden during Lent so on Easter Sunday people would celebrate and enjoy eggs once again.
There have been many Easter traditions over the centuries but I believe the symbol of the egg at Easter originated in paganism where eggs were painted in bright colours to celebrate Spring.
The first chocolate eggs were made in Europe in the early 19th Century following the invention of a new confectionary. The chocolate Easter Egg was born.
Nowadays many people associate Easter as a time for celebrating with the giving and receiving of chocolate Easter Eggs.
At Easter-time there is usually a lot of chocolate around the home.
The compound, Theobromine, is a compound found in chocolate that is toxic to dogs and due to the slow nature of their digestion, this compound can slowly build up in a dog’s body and they can become very unwell, very quickly.
Symptoms of poisoning after eating chocolate may include:
If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate or has become unwell during the Easter celebrations please contact your vet immediately.
If you have children and dogs, or have child visitors to your home, it is advantageous to explain to them the dangers of dogs eating chocolate. If children are too young to understand this information it is important to manage your dog whilst chocolate is being consumed, or better still, place your dog in an area where they can enjoy a dog-safe treat of their own away from temptation.
White chocolate is also unsafe. Even though it may not contain enough theobromine to poison your dog, it’s probably best to get into the habit of NOT giving your dog access to any human chocolate.
Hot Cross Buns
Chocolate isn’t the only Easter treat that can harm dogs; Hot Cross Buns contain dried fruits, such as raisins, sultanas and currants, all of which are highly toxic to dogs.
Another sweet treat at Easter is the Simnel Cake. Widely eaten in the Uk, this Easter decorated cake is a fruitcake, which contains raisins and sultanas and other dried fruits.
When eaten, even in very small quantities, dried fruits can cause kidney issues which could lead to complete kidney failure which may be delayed for up to around 72 hours.
Dogs can all react differently when they have eaten dangerous foods; some may not react at all but some can become very unwell very quickly. If this happens or you suspect your dog has eaten any of these fruits, contact your vet immediately.
There are lots of plants and flowers that are toxic to dogs too; these include daffodils, tulips and other bulb flowers that we like to enjoy in the Springtime. So, if you have a dog that spends time in the garden and likes to chew or dig up your flowers it’s perhaps time to remove them.
If your dog eats the bulbs or flowers, or even drinks the water the flowers were in, they can become very unwell.
Symptoms may include:
General unsteady demeanour
If you think your dog has been poisoned after spending time in the garden please act quickly. Similarly, if you witness your dog eating something they shouldn’t, don’t wait to see if they will be ok, act immediately and phone your vet for advice.
It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Buy your dog their own special easter treats, they deserve to be spoiled too!
Dog-friendly Easter Eggs are made from a specially formulated chocolate substitute and is made using Carob. Carob is a natural plant that is similar in taste to real chocolate.
It does not contain cocoa, caffeine or theobromine so it is completely safe for most dogs. It's full of good nutrients too!
Including your Dog in Easter Celebrations
Why not create your dog their very own Easter Treat Hunt in the garden.
This is a great enrichment exercise which stimulates dogs both mentally and physically.
Treats you could use:
Dog friendly chocolate
Apples (flesh only)
Hard boiled eggs (peeled)
Remember, not all dogs can eat all foods, so if you are unsure, do your research or run it past your vet.
Setting Up an Easter Treat Hunt
Here's some guidance on setting up a successful Easter Treat Hunt for your dog.
Prepare safe treats.
Hide the treats in the garden or in your home but make sure your dog doesn’t see you doing it, now, that would be too easy for them!
Remember not to hide anything somewhere you don’t usually want your dog to go!
Release your dog and at the moment they find a treat, say ‘Find It’, you may as well include a training exercise into the fun too!
If this game is new to your dog, you may have to give them a hand to find the first couple of treats but I’m sure they’ll catch on very quickly.
Why not scatter treats in the lawn? Then vary the heights treats are hidden, make some easy to find and then really challenge your dog to use their best tool, their nose, to hunt out some treats that are completely hidden from view.
Do not store Easter Eggs or leave them where your dog can get to them. Remember, dogs are resourceful!
Do not leave foods easily accessible on counter tops or tables.
Don’t forget to reduce your dog’s meals if they have lots of treats over easter; you don’t want them overeating, putting on weight or becoming unwell.
Please do your best to be aware of the dangers to your dog; manage your dog’s access to areas and events where they could come to harm.
Prevention is better than cure.