LoneTree_Chocolate_iStock_000018839411_LargeFor many families, Easter is a wonderful, celebratory time spent in the company of family and friends. Easter baskets, egg hunts, and big family get togethers often mark this special Sunday.

While fun for us, all holidays pose a special set of risks to our furry friends. Take a moment to learn about Easter pet safety and what you can do to ensure a safe environment for your pets on this holiday.

Why No Chocolate?

By now, most pet owners are aware that dogs should never be given chocolate. Although this is becoming common knowledge, pet poison hotlines and veterinary clinics around the country report a huge increase in calls regarding dogs ingesting chocolate during the week of Easter. But just why is chocolate bad for dogs?

The three main components that make chocolate toxic to pets are:

  • Fat
  • Caffeine
  • Theobromine

The high fat content of most chocolate can contribute to gastrointestinal distress in your dog, but the true toxicity comes from caffeine and theobromine, two stimulants that dogs have a hard time metabolizing.

Chocolate consumption by dogs should be considered a pet emergency, so it’s vital that you give us a call immediately if you know or suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate. Make a mental note of the type of chocolate and how much was consumed, and gather up any wrappers or packaging that goes with it. This information, along with your dog’s breed and size, are helpful in determining his or her treatment.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperactivity
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Cardiac arrest

The Dangers Of Xylitol

Xylitol is an alternative sweetener commonly used as a sugar substitute. This naturally occurring sugar/alcohol substance is found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms, although, commercially it is usually extracted from corn fiber, birch trees, and hardwood trees.

The dangers of xylitol poisoning in pets aren’t as widely known as with chocolate and remain under the radar for many pet owners. Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs and even relatively small amounts can lead to a rapid and dangerous drop in blood sugar, seizures, liver failure or death.

Xylitol is found in a wide variety of products, including:

  • Gum
  • Sugar free candy & mints
  • Sugar free baked goods
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Cough drops
  • Certain types of peanut butter

If you know or suspect your dog has ingested a product containing Xylitol, call us immediately. Symptoms of xylitol poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Simple Precautions Can Increase Easter Pet Safety

Watching youngsters’ excitement over their Easter baskets is an enjoyable part of the holiday for so many families, but remember, that your pets are watching, too, and waiting for their chance to grab a morsel for themselves. Keep in mind that other common Easter items, such as fake grass, plastic eggs, and Easter Lilies (which are very poisonous to cats) can also pose a hazard to our pets if eaten. Supervise all Easter day activities and make sure to clean up immediately afterward. For more information on these and other pet toxins, visit the Pet Poison Helpline at www.petpoisonhelpline.com.

Your team at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center is equipped to handle a pet poisoning emergency. We are offer extended evening and weekend hours for your convenience. If you have an emergency outside of our business hours, our after-hours phone message will direct you to a nearby veterinary emergency hospital.

Wishing you, your family, and your pet a safe and happy Easter, from all of us at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center!