5 steps to keep your dog safe at Easter and avoid a trip to the vet

Thousands of Teessiders will be celebrating Easter at home this year.

But to avoid a trip to the vet with a poorly dog, Redcar-based vet, Nicole McKenzie, shares tips on how to enjoy an Easter egg hunt at home.

Veterinary practice White Cross Vets often sees a spike around Easter with dogs eating chocolate, and the team wants to warn owners to be cautious when planning their Easter fun.

“Due to lockdown, we understand that more people will be creating ‘egg-citing’ Easter egg trails in their gardens and homes, but it’s essential that the family dog does not take part, as chocolate can make them very poorly,” said Nicole.

It is thought that the UK’s dog population has increased by at least 10% during the pandemic, now totalling over 11 million four legged friends.

But it is important owners are aware of the harm chocolate can cause to their beloved pups.

“It’s very likely that this is the first Easter for many new dog owners, and they might not be aware of the dangers chocolate poses.

“That’s why it’s essential to make sure that any Easter egg trails inside the house, or in the garden are pooch-proof,” Nicole said.

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White Cross Vets recommends that dogs should be settled safely away in their crate, or a room with the door closed, during an Easter egg hunt.

“It’s so easy in the excitement of Easter weekend for the family dog to find and eat chocolate.

“We have treated cases where despite being shut away, dogs have escaped and eaten chocolate even when it’s been on kitchen worktops or in a shopping bag, or in one case, from inside a closed handbag!

“Putting a baby gate, a chair or even a no entry notice on the door on the day of the Easter egg hunt, is a great way of reminding people that their pet pooch needs to be kept out of harm’s way.

“Alternatively, instead of hiding chocolate eggs, hide paper cut outs instead, just in case any chocolate gets missed in the hunt!

“If possible, store all chocolate away in raised cupboards,” Nicole said.

Sadly White Cross Vets regularly has to treat dogs who have eaten chocolate, but ahead of Easter weekend April 2 to 5, the practice has published a five step plan for owners in case their dog accidentally eats some.

1. Contact details – check you have the right vets’ contact details stored in your phone and double check the opening hours for your local vets. White Cross Vets opens its practice on Good Friday because of the high number of emergency cases around Easter

2. Don’t panic – chocolate is poisonous to dogs, but it depends on how much and what type they have eaten – the darker the chocolate the more at risk your dog is. The more theobromine, which is a stimulant poisonous to dogs, there is in chocolate, the more dangerous it becomes.

3. Do not try and make your dog sick yourself, as this can be extremely dangerous.

4. Call your vet – explain the situation and talk through the age and general health of your dog, as it will affect how they deal with the toxicity of the chocolate. Inform them if you know what type and amount of chocolate your dog has eaten.

5. Get your dog to the vet – if your dog is treated within half an hour to an hour or ingesting the chocolate, they will usually make a quick recovery. By seeking professional help right away it’s possible to avoid some of the irreversible damage that might otherwise occur.

Nicole said: “Despite the very best intentions, sometimes accidents happen, especially as some dogs can be seriously determined when it comes to sniffing out chocolate!

“However, it is important to remember that in the majority of cases, serious complications can be avoided if professional help is sought quickly.”

An advice video is available to watch here.

White Cross Vets is part of IVC Evidensia and has been caring for pets for 80 years, since starting in West Yorkshire in 1937.

There are 22 practices across the UK, with a team of 240 staff.

Teesside Live – Redcar and Cleveland