Dr Jayne Laycock is urging UK dog owners to ‘think like a dog’ and keep their chocolate stash away from their pets this Easter as she expects an increase in emergencies over the four-day weekend
Image: Getty Images)
With supermarket shelves stacked high with chocolate eggs and hot cross buns, preparations for this year’s Easter festivities are well underway.
But while these spring treats are popular with adults and children alike, they can have disastrous consequences when consumed by dogs.
Almost one in five owners have had to rush their pet to the vet because they’ve eaten chocolate over the festive period.
And with an estimated 12.5 million dogs living in the UK currently, this means vets could see up to 500,000 poorly pooches over the course of the four-day Easter weekend.
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The nationwide poll of 3,000 dog owners reveals 67 per cent always try to keep chocolate away from their dogs at Easter, because they know that it’s bad for them.
However, a fifth of those admit they feel guilty when they’re eating chocolate around their pet and they beg with puppy dog eyes.
And while almost a third say they buy chocolate designed especially for dogs at Easter, over one in five take the view that their dog is part of the family and so they eat what the humans eat – perhaps without realizing the dangers this can pose to their pets
Dr Jayne Laycock, who has been a practicing vet for the past 25 years, has seen her fair share of Easter-related horror stories in her time.
Now working as the resident vet at YuMOVE, she’s urging UK dog owners to “think like a dog” and keep their chocolate stash away from their pet this Easter.
Foods to avoid
A lot of Easter treats contain ingredients that can make your dog very unwell including chocolate and raisins. The ones to avoid are:
Garlic, onions and chives
Xylitol (artificial sweetener)
Grapes and Raisins
She added: “For us two-legged pet parents, an Easter egg is one of the best treats around. But the sad fact is that chocolate is highly toxic for dogs.
“Chocolate contains lots of sugar, fat and caffeine, none of which are brilliant for your dog’s health in any case. But the ingredient that’s actually poisonous for your pooch is theobromine, a bitter alkaloid of the cacao bean.
“For humans, the combination of caffeine and theobromine raises our spirits and makes us feel more alert. It’s one of the reasons why we find chocolate so addictive. But while it’s easy for us to digest theobromine, it can make your dog sick, and can even be fatal.”
While white chocolate has less of this toxic substance than milk chocolate, it can still cause issues which could have been easily avoided.
“Milk chocolate is toxic for dogs, and dark and baking chocolate are the worst of all, as they have higher concentrations of theobromine,” said Dr Laycock.
“Because chocolate is toxic for dogs, it’s not a good idea to have a traditional Easter egg hunt for your kids in the garden. You can bet your hound will sniff out the chocolate far quicker than your children, which could cause tears all round.
“If you’re planning one, then keep your pooch locked away until all the Easter treats have been found and there’s absolutely no chance of your dog finding a stray that’s been left behind.
“In general, though, prevention is much better than cure. Keep those Easter eggs well out of range of your pooch – and no tit bits.
“My advice if your dog does eat chocolate is to call your vet straight away. Even a little bit which may seem harmless can have an adverse effect on your dog, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.