With Easter on the horizon, vets around the nation are stocking up on emetic drugs (medications which will cause a dog to throw up) in preparation for the inevitable emergency calls from owners whose dogs have got into the chocolate stash! We all want to enjoy the holidays with our dogs and that means it’s important we take steps to make sure they’re safe around some of the hazards that are present in our homes around these times of the year. So, what traditional Easter things do we need to keep well out of reach of our pups and what can we do to reduce the likelihood of them scoffing these dangerous treats?
This traditional Easter treat is toxic to our dogs and should be kept out of reach at all times. Chocolate contains a substance called “theobromine,” which dogs metabolise much more slowly than we humans. This means that the effects of theobromine are much stronger for your dogs, making chocolate unsafe for them to consume. Darker, bitter chocolates, such as gourmet dark chocolate or baking chocolate, contain the highest concentration of theobromine and are therefore pose the biggest threat to our dogs. However, even weaker chocolate can cause theobromine poisoning – so it’s safest to keep all of our Easter eggs well out of reach! Signs of theobromine poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, panting, restlessness and excessive thirst.
Even if your dog doesn’t eat enough chocolate to induce theobromine poisoning, the high fat and sugar content of chocolate can trigger pancreatitis, so this is another reason to pop the eggs on a high shelf, in a cupboard or in a room our dogs don’t have access to.
Hot cross buns and many other sweet breads associated with Easter and spring are also a hazard for our canine companions, as they contain raisins, sultanas and/or currants. These dried grapes are toxic to our dogs. The exact reason is still unknown, but we do know that even just a few grapes have the potential to cause acute kidney failure. Symptoms can occur within hours and include vomiting, diarrhoea, drinking excessively, not eating and abdominal pain. So, tuck those hot cross buns into the bread bin and make sure you don’t leave them unattended around your pup!
Many of us are enjoying the longer days and (hopefully!) nicer weather, and are busy planting spring bulbs in our gardens. However, many of these plants are toxic to our dogs – both the bulbs and the plants themselves. Plants such as daffodils, tulips, crocuses and bluebells can all make our dogs sick, and even cause an irregular heartbeat and breathing difficulties. Remember that both the bulbs and flowers of many of these plants are dangerous, and even drinking the water from a vase of daffodils can affect our dogs.
Be sure to always research any new plants you intend to keep in the house or plant in the garden, and consider planting something non-toxic so your dog can enjoy the springtime safely. If you are particularly attached to these plants, keep any bulbs stored safely out of reach and be sure to only plant them in areas you know your dog absolutely cannot get access to! If you’re outside planting your bulbs, make sure your dog is shut away from the area so they don’t swipe any while you’re busy gardening!
Signs of poisoning from these plants can include sleepiness/unsteadiness, collapsing, fitting, changes to heart rate, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea and breathing difficulties.
What to do if your dog consumes any of these hazards?
Be sure to call your vet immediately if you suspect your dog has consumed any of the above. Sometimes we don’t know our dogs have snaffled something until they become unwell. However, time is of the essence and your vet will have a much better chance of saving your pup if you act quickly, so call your vet right away if you know your dog has eaten something – don’t wait for them to appear unwell. If you can make a note of useful information such as exactly what they may have ingested, how much of it you think they may have eaten, when they consumed it and any symptoms you’ve noticed, this will all help your vet to treat your dog appropriately.