Easter is a fun time for humans, but is a particularly dangerous time for pets, and owners must be cautious, as it poses a risk to their health and well-being, even from unexpected sources. Dr Linda Simon, an in-house veterinary surgeon at Pooch & Mutt, has shared her 5 top tips to keep your dog safe this Easter.
1. Keep dogs indoors or on a lead during Easter egg hunts
Whilst you should encourage dogs to run and play in the garden, an Easter egg hunt is one garden activity we should ensure they sit out. Making sure your dog doesn’t have access to chocolate eggs is very important.
Chocolate is poisonous for dogs, as it contains theobromine and caffeine, two stimulants that dogs cannot efficiently metabolise, so ingesting even a small amount can make them quite unwell. As we know, dogs have an incredible sense of smell, so it wouldn’t take them long to sniff out any hidden chocolate, most likely beating the kids to it.
Once your Easter egg hunt is over, it is a good idea to double-check your garden for any forgotten chocolate before you allow your dog to freely roam the garden unsupervised.
(Remember: keep hot-cross buns away from your dog, too! Raisins, sultanas and currants can be deadly to dogs if eaten)
2. In the unfortunate event that your dog ingests some chocolate
It’s important to take them to your veterinary clinic, where they will advise and act upon the next steps. If you want to involve your dog in the Easter games, then hide some of your dog’s favourite treats around the garden once the chocolate hunt is over and let them sniff them out. Not only is this one way to stop them from feeling left out, but it is a great source of mental stimulation that can help control stress and curb unwanted behaviours.
3. Avoid sharing your roast dinner
Sharing Easter feasts with our furry friends can be tempting, but this may be doing more harm than good. A traditional UK roast dinner includes chicken, stuffing, gravy, veggies, and Yorkshire puddings – but some of these ingredients can make your pooch quite sick.
While lean chicken meat is absolutely fine to give to our dogs, we need to be cautious of offering too much skin as chicken skin is high in fat, causing pancreatitis in susceptible dogs. Stuffing is generally a ‘no-no’ for dogs as it contains onion and garlic. If eaten in large quantities, these allium plants can cause red blood cells to break down and can cause anaemia.
Some gravies may be safe, but richer gravies with butter or meat fat are too high in fat and salt and can cause stomach upsets and pancreatitis. Overall, Veggies are the safest option if you want to share, but avoid those cooked in fat or butter. Boiled carrots, parsnips, sprouts, and potatoes are good choices.
4. Supervise your children at all times
With the increased excitement and the likely consumption of more sugar than they are generally used to, children can get a little bit hyper. Make sure you supervise any children particularly closely, to ensure your dog is not pestered and is happy with any interactions.
5. Avoid your dog getting access to your rubbish bins
Dogs’ super-sensitive sense of smell makes them great at finding food, even in the rubbish bin. To prevent potentially dangerous incidents, store your bin out of reach or weigh down the lid when your dog is around.
Easter adds to the risk of food scraps, wrappers, and packaging that could cause blockages or internal damage if ingested. Items such as chicken bones can splinter when consumed. They can cause serious internal damage, and ingestion of wrappers and other non-food items can cause blockages and other issues that could lead to your dog requiring surgery. So for your sanity and your dogs’ safety, ensuring they do not have access to your bins is advised! Avoid the hassle and keep your dog safe by restricting access to your bins.