Warning for dogs owners at risk of chocolate poisoning ahead of Easter

New data released by The Kennel Club shows that cases of dog chocolate poisoning more than double during Easter, compared to other months in the year.

Recorded dog thefts in Lincolnshire have halved over the last year from 12 incidents to 2019/2020 to just 6 incidents in 2020/2021. Picture: Martin Birks. EMN-210326-124755001

The new data, collected by The Kennel Club’s insurance partner, Agria Pet Insurance, indicates that claims for chocolate poisoning in dogs peak during Easter, increasing by 235 per cent during the four-week period, causing The Kennel Club to issue a warning about the Easter dangers for our four-legged friends, to avoid a possible seasonal health crisis.

Bill Lambert, Head of Health and Welfare at The Kennel Club, said: “Easter, and spring in general, can be very exciting for our furry friends, as it’s often a time when more people have time for their dogs, celebrations take place and the warmer weather bring with it longer walks and more time to explore the great outdoors.

“Dogs are a part of the family and of course can be involved in seasonal celebrations, but they can’t always enjoy the same festivities as humans do.

“We want to make sure that the nation’s much-loved dogs have a happy, stress-free and safe Easter, especially with so many new owners navigating the chocolate-filled celebration for the first time.

“For many lockdown puppies, this Easter could be the first opportunity to meet extended family members and friends, and travel away from home too, and it is important that this is a positive experience, where they don’t get their paws on anything dangerous.”

Simon Wheeler, Managing Director of Agria Pet Insurance, added: “Easter and Christmas time are two moments in the year when we see a sharp spike in instances of dogs being poisoned by chocolate.

“It is easy for dogs to sniff out chocolate and other forbidden treats and we’d like to urge all dog owners to be extra vigilant this spring and keep all dangerous food safely tucked away from dogs.”

To enjoy this Easter safely with your four-legged friend, The Kennel Club, has some ‘impawtant’ tips:

Chocolate hazards

Every Easter, thousands of dogs end up in need of veterinary treatment due to chocolate poisoning.

Dogs are unfortunately excellent at sniffing out not only chocolate but other seasonal treats too and can be very inventive when it comes to getting their paws on them.

Remember to keep any chocolate high up, out of the reach of your dog’s paws when it’s not being eaten and be careful when you are eating chocolate, ensuring your dog can’t get to it.

Sadly, despite their strong sniffing abilities, dogs can’t take part in the traditional egg hunt and should be kept away from the activities or remain on lead the whole time.

Chocolate is not the only dangerous Easter treat for dogs, as other traditional foods include ingredients that are poisonous to dogs.

Hot cross buns and Simnel cake may contain grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas which are toxic to dogs, so it is important to keep those away from them and out of paws’ reach

Family fun

With lockdown restrictions gradually lifting, it is possible that some dogs – and puppies – will be meeting more people than they have in months.

Encountering new people, including children, can be stressful for dogs and especially for puppies who have spent their first and formative months in their small family bubble.

An Easter egg hunt and lunch in the garden could be overwhelming for them with new voices, smells and noises.

To make sure Easter celebrations don’t become too much for your dog, make sure their routine isn’t disrupted – take them out on their usual walks and keep dinner time the same – and make sure they still have their usual space and bed so they can retreat and settle in their usual spot as and when they want to.

If Easter weekend is going to be the first time your dog meets family members due to the pandemic restrictions, make sure it’s not too overwhelming for them and that you’ve prepared and socialised them ahead of the event.

There’s advice on socialising your puppy at home and tips to make sure they’re ready for the ‘new normal’ available on The Kennel Club’s online training hub: thekennelclub.org.uk/training

Spring awakening

As Spring starts to bloom, there are several plants and creatures you should look out for to prevent any health concerns for your four-legged friend.

The bulbs and other parts of several spring flowering plants can be poisonous to dogs, including daffodils, tulips and spring crocuses. Keep an eye on your dog in the garden and always keep bulbs out of their reach.

Don’t try to make your dog sick if you think your dog might have eaten a poisonous plant, but do contact your vet.

Spring is also a time when some creatures become more active, including slugs, snails, toads, ticks and adders, and coming across these can be a health hazard.

When your dog is exploring during spring, check on them regularly and make sure you know what to do in case your dog is bitten or in contact with one of the creatures.

Make sure you inspect your dog for ticks regularly, especially after walks, and always remove any ticks quickly and carefully, speaking to your vet if you are unsure how to do this.

Post-lockdown walkies

Some dog owners might plan to explore new walking routes further afield over the Easter weekend as the Government’s ‘stay at home’ message has been lifted.

If you and your dog are planning to discover a new route this Easter, make sure you understand how to be responsible when walking in countryside, and around wildlife or livestock, especially during lambing season, to keep your dog as well as other animals and humans safe.

Some areas can have seasonal restrictions around dog walking, such as dogs being banned from beaches during certain months and you should always familiarise yourself with these restrictions ahead of your adventure.

When walking around cattle and livestock make sure to keep your dog on a lead and never allow your dog to approach or chase any livestock or wildlife.

The Kennel Club has further advice on how to make sure your dog is enjoying Easter and our new freedoms safely and securely, including health advice, training tips and guidance for new dog owners available on its Paw-by-Paw guide out of lockdown: thekennelclub.org.uk/pawbypaw