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Easter dangers for dogs

Many of us enjoy tasty treats like chocolate eggs and hot cross buns at Easter, but what can be a treat for us humans can be dangerous for our canine chums. Thanks to our Canine Technical Managers Bob and Helen for this timely p'update...

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Sadly Easter eggs and hot cross buns can be dangerous for your dog as they contain ingredients which are toxic to them and could make them extremely ill.

In this Easter special p'update, our Canine Technical Managers Bob Crawford and Helen Clark have kindly taken some time out to explain the dangers of delicious Easter treats for our furry friends.

Hot cross buns

Traditionally eaten at this time of year these fruit and spice buns contain sultanas and raisins, both of which can cause kidney failure in dogs.  Whilst some dogs can ingest huge amounts of dried fruit and feel no ill effects, others have found a few raisins can prove fatal.  Similarly, grapes, avocados, peaches, plums, and macadamia nuts are foods you might enjoy but which can be poisonous for your dog.


Chocolate is one of the most common causes of poisoning for dogs.  Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine which is poisonous to dogs. 

Theobromine mainly affects the heart, central nervous system and kidneys.  Symptoms will occur from 4-24 hours after your dog has eaten chocolate and will vary depending on the amount and type of chocolate your dog has ingested. 

Dark chocolate contains the most amount of theobromine, whilst white chocolate has very little.  Different dogs react to different things.  Some dogs can tolerate human chocolate without apparent illness.  Sadly however, most dogs react very badly and for some, it could kill them.

Possible symptoms of canine poisoning

  • Vomiting (possibly including blood)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Hyperactivity and restlessness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Muscle twitching
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures / fitting

Call the vet

Do not wait for symptoms to appear.  If you think your dog has eaten chocolate, even if they do not appear to be having any adverse reaction, always contact your vet for advice.

If you know your dog has eaten any chocolate contact your vet as quickly as possible with as much information as you can about how much they have eaten and the type of chocolate consumed.  

Keep the chocolate wrappers and remains of the chocolate and take them with you to the surgery.  The sooner your dog is seen the better their chance of survival.

With poisoning, it is extremely common that the reaction does not occur for many hours or even days after ingestion and by that time it could be too late.

Possible vet treatment

There is no antidote to theobromine.  In most cases of chocolate poisoning, your vet will initially make your dog vomit, wash out their stomach and then feed them activated charcoal to absorb any theobromine left in the intestine. 

Do not be tempted to make your dog vomit yourself.  This should be done by your vet in a controlled manner.

Please note that not all pets react the same way to poisoning and some appear to tolerate grapes, raisins, chocolate etc. with no apparent ill-effects – there is no way to predict the effect these foods will have on your dog and so it is always best to avoid them.

Ensure your pets are safely out of the way before starting an Easter egg hunt, as often they are the quickest to find the treasure because of their brilliant noses.

We hope you and your canine friends enjoy a safe and happy Easter.


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