It’s that time of year again. The shops are full of chocolate eggs and hot cross buns in preparation for Easter weekend, many of us are looking to nice long weekend away from work, and the weather is improving…maybe!
For children, Easter is a time of treats, egg hunts, chocolate bunnies and much more. For adults, also, Easter eggs can be a welcome treat after the diets that we started in the new year! However, it is worth remembering that chocolate is not a treat for dogs and can be poisonous to dogs. It contains an ingredient called theobromine which is toxic to dogs and could result in illness, including vomiting and diarrhoea, or even an emergency trip to the vet. Some signs that your dog has ingested chocolate could include twitching and muscle spasms or general over-excitement. In fact, any sweets or confectionery intended for human consumption is a no-no for your dog so keep them out of sight and out of reach. If you think that your dog may have eaten a quantity of chocolate, call your vet immediately for advice.
Similarly, hot cross buns contain dried fruits which are also toxic to dogs and can result in kidney failure, so keep them out of reach too!
However, this isn’t all bad news for your dog and doesn’t mean you can’t allow him to join in the festivities; there are lots of treats available in supermarkets, independent retailers, or online that your dog will be able to enjoy safely. Many artisan makers produce fabulously-packaged dog treats to ensure that your furry friend won’t feel left out this Easter. Some of these are packed with nutrients and are organic so an even better option for your best friend.
As will all treats, don’t overdo it. Keep out of reach of both dogs and children to avoid the risk of over feeding (your dog may help himself, or your children may give too many treats without you knowing). Also, because such care is now taken over the packaging, dog treats could resemble human sweets to a child and, in the same way that you don’t want the dog eating the human treats, you don’t want your children eating the dog treats!
So, if you have a dog, it’s probably advisable not to have an Easter Egg hunt in your own home or garden. Your dog is sure to want to join in and will be much quicker to find the treasure than the children. Dogs, as we know, can be guided missiles when it comes to tracking down a food source! It may be best to do your Easter egg hunt at a relative or friend’s dog-free house.
Just like other times of year when parties or gatherings are likely, take steps to ensure the safety of your dog and any visitors. Some dogs love visitors and enjoy the fuss they receive at a party, but not all dogs enjoy a house full of strangers and some can become overwhelmed by lots of children because of the increase in activity and noise levels. Our advice would be to be honest with yourself about how much exposure to new people and children your dog can tolerate. If you feel it would be safer, follow your instincts and put your dog away in another room. Don’t be afraid to be firm with visitors, especially visiting children, that they are not to approach the dog. It may seem excessive, but it is a much better option for yourself, your visitors, and the dog. Apart from the fact that you wouldn’t want to see anyone, especially a child, bitten by your dog, recent changes to dog laws in the UK mean that you would be held responsible and could risk a hefty fine, even prosecution, and your dog could receive a death sentence.
On a more positive note, it is a long weekend for most of us, and your time is something that you can share freely with your dog. There are lots of dog-friendly organised walks and activities going on around the country, so it would be worth checking what’s on in your local area (try www.dogfriendlybritain.co.uk/events) and, if you feel it is something your dog would enjoy, go along and enjoy some time in the fresh air together. Then, the dog can have a lovely snooze later whilst you tuck into those Easter eggs!