The world is full of hazards for dogs, just as it is for humans and, just like for humans, most of the time we can avoid them. Knowing what poses a hazard to our four-legged friends is key to being able to keep them safe and avoid illness or an emergency trip to the vet.
At Forever Hounds Trust, we want to help everybody enjoy their Easter fun – pets included! Below is some advice from the experts at Dog First Aid on how to avoid hazards that are particularly prevalent over the Easter holidays.
- Chocolate eggs
Now Christmas is behind us, we can be sure to find Easter eggs in our local supermarkets tempting us at the end of aisles. Not only are these often kept hidden ‘en masse’ before Easter, but we find children receive so many Easter eggs they may have a hoard of their own somewhere! And while discovering this hoard may be your dog’s idea of heaven – it can quickly turn to disaster.
Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which are toxic to dogs. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are much higher in concentration of theobromine and caffeine – and therefore pose more of a threat – than milk or white chocolate. However, large enough quantities of milk chocolate still regularly get consumed during the Easter period to warrant presentation to vets for treatment.
If you arrive home to an array of wrappers and you suspect the dog eaten some chocolate, it’s time to call Animal Poison Line or your vet, to find out whether or not the amount consumed constitutes risk of toxicity for their bodyweight. Always take the advice of Animal Poison Line or your vet. If risk is posed then a trip down to the surgery will be needed; there your vet can induce vomiting (emesis) , followed by monitoring for signs of toxicity.
Your dog may need to be admitted for further care including intra-venous fluids and other treatment as planned by your vet.
Untreated, signs of chocolate toxicity may progress to un-coordination, seizures, severe cardiac abnormalities, coma and death. The high fat content of chocolate products may trigger pancreatitis in susceptible animals.
- Sultanas, currants and raisins
Simnel cake and hot cross buns-a-plenty, Easter time presents more than average opportunities for our canine friends to snaffle some of these potentially toxic dried fruits. The toxicity of raisins, sultanas and grapes isn’t fully understood yet, but it’s not a risk worth taking.It’s important to remember that just one raisin or grape can be enough to kill a dog of any size if they are unlucky. Dogs that have ingested sultanas, currants or raisins need to be taken to a vet immediately, as without treatment your dog is at serious risk.. Left untreated in susceptible individuals, signs include lethargy, anorexia, weakness, dehydration and increased drinking. If renal failure develops this can prove fatal.
Used more and more commonly in baked goods, sweets and chewing gum, the sweetener xylitol may not be on the doggy menu but end up being consumed by your dog inadvertently. Ingestion causes hypoglycaemia, and possible liver damage.
The amount of xylitol ingested should be recorded and reported to Animal Poison Line or your vet – this will be useful in determining whether toxic signs will be expected and how severe they will be. Where xylitol has been ingested, signs of hypoglycaemia can develop rapidly so it is imperative to induce emesis as soon as possible, and before signs: weakness, vomiting, incoordination, collapse, seizures and coma. Affected animals should be hospitalised and treated. Signs of hepatic damage include depression, jaundice, vomiting and clotting problems, and those showing severe abnormalities on bloods have a guarded prognosis despite veterinary intervention.
- Easter plants
Easter plants and bulbs are given as gifts or kept at home around this time for ornamental purposes. Many of these are toxic to dogs and if their ingestion is suspected or confirmed, advice should be sought from your vet.
As with everything, if your dog eats something you aren’t sure about, or if your dog becomes unwell – always seek the advice of a vet. Better still, avoid these risks by keeping human foods up high, keeping bulbs tidied safely away, and keeping a close eye on your dog whilst Easter goodies are being enjoyed. This way, you can all have a wonderful Easter!