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Chocolate Easter eggs and other dangerous temptations for dogs and cats

Easter is here again! Many people are looking forward to eating chocolate and growing new plants this time of year! From hot cross buns and chocolate Easter eggs to daffodils and lilies, there are many things that we like to celebrate with in Spring, which can be dangerous for dogs and cats. In this article we share some of the most common problems to look out for with your pet over Easter.

This article was written by a FirstVet vet


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Is chocolate dangerous for my dog?

The quick answer is yes, chocolate is potentially dangerous for dogs! Chocolate eggs are synonymous with Easter and of course nothing beats an Easter egg hunt. Dogs have an extremely good sense of smell. Whilst other pets are at risk if they consume chocolate, they tend not to be quite as keen to eat it as our canine friends. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which can be toxic to dogs. Dark chocolate contains the highest amount of theobromine and caffeine, which makes it very dangerous for dogs. White chocolate has the least amount of these ingredients, and milk chocolate is in between the two.

If your dog eats chocolate, it can cause severe illness, and even death, if they eat enough of it. Initial signs include restlessness, a high heart rate, increased drinking, increased toileting and stomach upset, such as vomiting and diarrhoea. This can rapidly lead onto an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia), seizures and breathing difficulties.

If you think your dog has eaten chocolate then speed is of the essence! Your dog should be checked by a vet immediately. We will need to know the most recent weight of your dog and a close estimation of the amount and type of chocolate that has been eaten. From this information, we can calculate the level of risk to your pet and provide accurate advice about what you need to do next.

To reduce the risk of chocolate poisoning, we advise that chocolate is never left out of a securely locked cupboard or on a surface where a dog can reach it. Remember that with their highly sensitive noses, dogs will find chocolate even if they can’t see it. Ensure that after an Easter egg hunt, all the eggs are counted, and keep your pet away from the area throughout the activity.

What Easter plants are dangerous for dogs and cats?

Spring Daffodils are a popular flower at Easter time. Interestingly, the daffodil bulb, leaves, sap and stem can all be toxic for pets. Even water from the vase containing Daffodil flowers can be poisonous to your dog. Daffodils contain toxic alkaloids, mostly concentrated in the bulbs.

Symptoms can range from mild vomiting or diarrhoea, to more severe symptoms such as kidney or liver failure, and potentially life threatening heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmia).

Other poisonous plants that can cause issues at this time of year include:

  • Lilies (especially in cats, where all parts are poisonous)
  • Azaleas
  • Snowdrops
  • Tulips
  • Amaryllis

If your pet has eaten any part of a plant, and you need advice, please seek help immediately. It will help the vet if you can provide details about which part of the plant was eaten, how much of the plant was eaten, and the weight of your dog. Plant poisonings often involve rapid absorption of the toxins, so a quick response can help your pet to get the help it needs.=

Which Easter foods are dangerous for pets?

It can be tempting to give leftover food to our pets. However, please think twice before doing this. There are many human foods that pets can’t have. For example, garlic, onions, sweeteners (xylitol), bread dough, food with mould on, grapes, raisins, cherries, apricots, nectarines and peaches, to name but a few.

Lamb is a fatty meat, which can sometimes lead to digestive problems, such as pancreatitis. Feeding bones should also be avoided for several reasons. Dogs may sustain tooth fractures by chewing bones, and if they are not used to bones, it can lead to constipation. In addition, when a bone is cooked it becomes brittle and will splinter more easily. This can damage the oesophagus, stomach and intestine, or cause obstructive blockages, if large pieces are swallowed.

Seasonal skin diseases in dogs and cats

Skin allergies are not often associated with Easter, but we start to see more seasonal skin disease at this time of year!

Just as humans suffer with allergies, so do many pets. Spring is the time of year when pollen levels are starting to rise. With it comes a surge in cases presenting with itchy skin, itchy ears, red or watery eyes and hair loss. If you are concerned about any of these, please seek veterinary advice about how to help you pet.

As the weather warms up, ticks also start to emerge. Dogs that are walked in areas of woodland or pasture can pick up these and other parasites. There is often an increase in flea populations as the weather starts to warm up too. Most life cycle stages (95%) of the flea live in the environment. Female adult fleas simply hop onto an animal to take a blood meal in order to lay eggs, before hopping off, back into the surrounding environment. Please ensure that your pet is up to date with parasite control at this time of year.

Still worried?

Our FirstVet vet team is here for you and your pet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, throughout Easter, and all year round. If you have any questions or concerns, please book a video appointment to have a chat with one of our vets.

Happy Easter!

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