Hide the chocolate and make your home a dog-safe zone this Easter

With the bank holiday Easter weekend quickly approaching, Dogs Trust is appealing for dog owners to be vigilant and keep the chocolate out of reach of our four-legged friends.

As Easter eggs and other tasty cocoa treats find their way into homes, we hope to raise awareness of the continued risk that the consumption of chocolate poses to our canine companions. We are providing top tips and advice for any dog owners on how to have a dog-friendly Easter.

Josie Cocks, Dogs Trust Veterinary Surgeon explains the importance of not allowing dogs to eat human chocolate:

“Chocolate can be poisonous to dogs, so owners should ensure they keep it out of reach of their four-legged friends. Whilst some chocolate is more toxic than others, any amount is potentially harmful to your dog.

“If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, we would advise owners to contact their vets immediately. Chocolate poisoning can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive thirst, excitability, drooling, seizures and potentially kidney and heart failure.”

Our advice and top tips for dog owners at Easter time:

  • Never give your pooch any human chocolate as a treat. Ensure that children and visitors understand why and adhere to this rule too.
  • Make sure that bins are dog-proof to avoid four-legged friends scavenging through rubbish.
  • Never leave any chocolate unsupervised, such as cakes cooling on worktop surfaces.
  • Keep a close eye on your dog whilst out walking, to avoid them scoffing down discarded food that is potentially harmful.
  • Teach your dog to 'leave' with top tips from Dog School.

Alternative treats for your pooch

Although our canine companions shouldn’t be eating human chocolate, there are plenty of other ways for them to enjoy the holiday weekend. Including our 10 easy treat ideas.

Charlotte Huggins, Canine Behaviour Officer at Dogs Trust offers some other suggestions:

“There are plenty of exciting things we can do with our pets over the holiday weekend. Taking them on their own Easter hunt that includes dog-friendly treats instead of chocolate is a great way of bonding and giving our dogs lots of beneficial exercise.

You can also save up your Easter egg boxes and put them to good use by building a small hurdle for your dog and getting them to jump over it, or hide their toys or teats in them for them to sniff out. You could even create a twist to last year’s Snoot Challenge by using the egg-shaped hole in the Easter egg box for your dog to pop their snoot through. Dog owners could build them their own Easter bunny burrow, or ‘Doggy Den’ so your furry friend has a cosy, comfortable place to sleep.”

Dog-friendly treats and games are remarkably easy to come by, or even make, such as in the video below.”

Seeking emergency veterinary treatment

Lauren Price, from Gloucester, recently had a close call with her dog Minnie. The Jack Russell needed emergency veterinary treatment after sneaking into a hidden stash of chocolate at home.

Lauren said:

“My husband I received two large bags of chocolate as part of a birthday gift, which Minnie managed to find one morning when she was left alone in the house. When we returned there was tiny pieces of purple packaging all over the floor, her water bowl was licked bone dry and she had been sick in her food bowl.

“She had torn the packaging, taken the chocolate out and eaten both bars. Minnie was in the garden being sick everywhere and I could feel her heart rate was up and her ears were burning hot. We rushed her to the vets and they kept her in overnight. She received a charcoal flush to make her sick and lots of tests.

“We were so worried I honestly didn’t think she was going to make it, especially being an older dog. The next day we were allowed to go and collect her and she was a funny shade of grey for a few days. She is back to her usual self and we are more conscious than ever now about keeping food out of her reach.”

If your doggo does manage to eat some of your Easter chocolate it's important that you seek the advice of your vet immediately.

*Research cited – British Veterinary Association