During the Easter season our homes are filled with chocolate eggs that test our willpower. For most people, the biggest danger Easter pose is to our diet, but for dogs they can be deadly. Unlike people, dogs have no instinct about how dangerous chocolate can be, in fact, the opposite is true. Chocolate is irresistible to dogs, so it falls upon their owners to be vigilant and protect their dogs during the Easter season.
Why Chocolate is Dangerous for Dogs
Theobromine is a natural chemical which is found in cocoa beans and chocolate. While the human digestive system is able to process Theobromine quite easily, the same isn’t true for dogs. Instead of being digested, the chemical passes straight into a dog’s blood stream. The effects are similar to a high dose of caffeine and depending on the size and weight of the dog, can be fatal.
It may take 12 hours for a dog who has eaten chocolate to start showing symptoms, and sadly by this time it’s often too late to save them. The dog’s heart rate increases and it’s muscles contract which often results in convulsions. This is why if you know your dog has eaten Easter eggs, you should contact your vet immediately.
Treatment for Dogs who have Eaten Chocolate Easter Eggs
If you know that your dog has eaten Easter eggs, try to collect the wrapper. Sometimes this isn’t possible because dogs aren’t fussy and often inhale the Easter egg in the wrapping. However, if you can access the ingredient information of the the Easter egg, make a note of the percentage of cocoa and the weight of the egg. This information will help your vet estimate how much Theobromine your dog has ingested and if urgent medical attention is required. Also try to estimate how long it’s been since the dog ate the chocolate.
Don’t delay taking your dog to the vet if treatment is required. The earlier your dog receives treatment, the greater their chances of making a full recovery. Standard treatment is for the vet to induce vomiting to try and remove the Easter Egg from the dog’s stomach. Depending on the success of this treatment, your dog may be allowed home or may need to stay overnight for observation.
Tips for Keeping Dogs Safe at Easter
Explain to children how dangerous chocolate is to your dog and why they must never feed a dog chocolate, Easter eggs or candy. Talk to them about why they need to keep Easter eggs out of the dog’s reach and show them were to store their eggs and Easter candy. Encourage your kids to come up with non-chocolate Easter treats for their dog or buy special dog chocolate (making sure children understand they mustn’t eat it).
Don’t underestimate your dog’s determination to eat your Easter eggs. Dog’s will go to incredible lengths to reach chocolate and can inhale it in seconds. Dogs have been known to swallow whole Easter eggs, wrapping and all. Keep eggs on high shelves or bench tops and never leave Easter eggs unattended or within a dog’s reach, no matter how disinterested they may appear. Make a note of how may eggs you hide during Easter egg hunts and ensure they are all collected if they are in an area your dog has access to.
Despite these precautions, accidents do happen so keep an eye on your dog over Easter, and if they start behaving abnormally, consult your vet. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include hyperactivity, racing heart, restlessness, increased urination, muscle tremors, vomiting and diarrhea. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, check for signs that they may have eaten Easter eggs and call your vet immediately.