Dog welfare charity warns about dangers of canine chocolate consumption this Easter

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·4-min read
Dog owners are being warned about the dangers of chocolate this Easter. (Getty Images)
Dog owners are being warned about the dangers of chocolate this Easter. (Getty Images)

Easter is almost upon us and while many will be looking forward to tucking into the treats that come with it, a warning has been issued to dog owners about the dangers chocolate presents to pets.

New research released from The Kennel Club by Agria Pet Insurance has revealed cases of chocolate poisoning in dogs accelerate by 54% in April, making it the second highest month for claims after the Christmas period.

For humans, Easter chocolate is the ultimate treat, but the brown stuff is actually incredibly toxic for our fury friends, which means that every Easter thousands of dogs are rushed for emergency veterinary treatment after accidentally consuming a chocolate egg or more.

According to the RSPCA, chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which is toxic to dogs and other pets, and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, convulsions and even death.

Cocoa powder is the most toxic chocolate product to pets, followed by dark and then milk chocolate.

Last Easter, Buddy, a three-year-old toy poodle from Hertfordshire, discovered the dangers of chocolate first hand when he managed to get his paws on an Easter egg.

Read more: Dog dangers of summer: How to keep your pet safe all season

Chocolate is toxic to dogs. (Getty Images)
Chocolate is toxic to dogs. (Getty Images)

Buddy’s owners noticed him being sick and were concerned by its dark brown colour. After trying to identify what he might have eaten, they soon discovered a half-eaten chocolate egg, with more sweets inside also gone.

The family quickly rushed Buddy to the vet while he shook and gagged in the car. Buddy was immediately put onto a drip, kept overnight and monitored the next day.

Fortunately, he did make a full recovery, but at £1,000 the incident was not only costly, it also caused his family plenty of anguish.

Watch: Many dog owners think taking care of their pets is more important than taking care of their kids

And it isn't just your Easter chocolate stash that could pose a threat to your pooch this bank holiday weekend, owners are also being advised to keep an eye on other traditional treats, like hot cross buns and Simnel cake, which commonly contain grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas, all of which are also highly toxic to dogs.

"This Easter we want to remind all owners to keep an extra careful eye on their four-legged friends,” says Bill Lambert, dog health expert at The Kennel Club.

“Our furry companions can sniff out even the best hidden chocolate eggs and non-canine friendly confectionaries, as these worrying new statistics show.

“As a society of dog lovers, we naturally want to include our pets as part of the festivities.

"However, to make sure Easter remains happy and safe for everyone, we want to raise awareness among dog owners, new and experienced, of certain elements that pose a particular danger to dogs at this time of year.”

Read more: Are UK dogs in danger from a new mystery virus?

There is a way to have a dog-friendly celebration this Easter. (Getty Images)
There is a way to have a dog-friendly celebration this Easter. (Getty Images)

To help protect your pooch this Easter, Lambert suggests keeping track of any chocolates brought into the house and storing them safely out of reach, up high and behind the closed doors of cupboards.

For those keeping up traditions of a festive chocolate egg hunt, he says it is important that your dog is kept away during this activity and ensure all the hidden chocolates are found before welcoming them back to the area.

Read more: Three-quarters of British dogs are depressed – how can we improve their mood?

What to do if your dog does consume chocolate this Easter

The RSPCA advises any pet owner to contact their vet immediately and follow their advice if they are worried about what their dog has eaten.

Never watch and wait in any case of suspected poisoning. The effects can take hold quickly, so knowing the symptoms and how to respond to them can be the difference between life and death.

An RSPCA spokesperson adds: “We all know that our dogs can sometimes beg for food but if you give in and feed your dog human foods like chocolate, you risk poisoning your dog.

“Other human foods like hot cross buns are also a danger to our pets, so if you want your dog to share in a treat with you this Easter, please stick to specially made dog treats.

"Avoid leaving any chocolate lying around, and prevent children from feeding chocolate to any pets, however well-meaning they might be."

Watch: Can you read your pets' mind?

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