Easter Safety Tips for Dog Parents with Vet Dr. Danielle Bernal

Horizontal image of a 7 year old girl sitting near her golden labrador retriever dog in the backyard with a basket full of colorful Easter eggs

Follow some Easter safety advice from a vet! (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Easter is coming and many families are celebrating with food, gifts and fun. However, the holidays can pose some dangers for our dogs.

Our puppies are part of the family and we don’t want to exclude them from the good times, but it’s important to be extra careful and vigilant during events with lots of people and distractions. Easter is no exception.

I had a conversation with Dr. Danielle Bernal, veterinarian at Wellness Natural Pet Food, to get some tips on what dog parents should keep an eye out for this Easter.

While you enjoy your Easter celebrations and fun, keep these safety tips in mind and spread the word to help other families keep their dogs safe too.

Keep the chocolates and candies out of reach

Senior woman with chocolate Easter bunny and flowers

(Photo credit: francesco_de_napoli/Getty Images)

Easter baskets are often full of candy and chocolate bunnies. “In fact, the Pet Poison Helpline reports that the number of calls during the week of Easter increases by nearly 200 percent due to dogs eating chocolate,” says Dr. Bernal.

Small children can sometimes drop treats on the floor or leave half-eaten treats where dogs can get them, so make sure they know the rules and watch out for discarded treats or wrappers.

“Clearly wrappers don’t digest like food, and they can cause intestinal blockages in dogs,” adds Dr. Bernal to it.

If you plan on serving desserts, make sure to keep them on the table and away from hungry pups. Chocolate is toxic to dogs and candy can be full of sugar or artificial sweeteners such as xylitol, which is also toxic to dogs.

Make sure your dog only sticks to snacks that are specifically for dogs. dr. Bernal recommends Wellness CORE Petite Treats, which are grain-free and high in protein.

If your dog gets into the chocolate

if your dog is doing somehow manage to sneak away with a piece of chocolate, you should pay attention to the respective symptoms. Contact your vet if you see any signs of an upset stomach or digestive problems, as well as behavioral changes.

Chocolate can have different effects on different dogs.

“If a large dog has a little bit of chocolate, the reaction will likely be milder than if a small dog eats that same amount of chocolate. So size matters, both for how big the dog is and how much chocolate is being consumed,” says dr. Bernal.

But your dog’s size and the amount of chocolate he’s eaten aren’t the only things to worry about. You also need to know what kind of chocolate your dog ate.

“Dark chocolate is the one you really want to avoid because it has the ingredient theobromine in a more concentrated form than milk chocolate. Theobromine, similar to caffeine, is toxic to our furry friends. The less concentration of the toxin, the better,” adds dr. Bernal please.

Alcohol and caffeine are only for humans

Glass of wine and a pug

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Speaking of caffeine, many people drink coffee or enjoy a good glass of wine at Easter gatherings.

All alcoholic or caffeinated drinks should be placed high and away from dogs.

The sweetness of these drinks may appeal to puppies, but alcohol, caffeine, and the sugar or sweeteners that often accompany them can quickly lead to illness and an emergency vet visit.

Cooked bones are dangerous

Little yellow dog is sitting by the table and waiting for food

(Photo Credit: Kerkez/Getty Images)

If you want to serve dishes with bones, make sure to keep them on plates and throw them away quickly. If you have a kid’s table that’s lower to the floor, make sure your dog can’t slip bones off plates when kids aren’t watching.

Cooked bones can shatter into sharp pieces causing internal damage, and these bones are a choking hazard.

“While it’s fine to give your dog table scraps when it comes to most vegetables or protein, you don’t want to give them bone of any kind that could shatter or get stuck in their throat,” says Dr. Bernal.

If you want to share Easter food with your dog, stick to dog-friendly options.

Guests can cause anxiety

Portrait of dog under the table

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Having guests over, ringing the bell and going in and out can cause anxiety in dogs that aren’t used to all the commotion.

The strange faces and strange smells of new people entering their territory can be frightening and cause dogs to become nervous or even run amok if the door is left open.

In the run up to Easter, it may be a good idea to train your dog to feel comfortable around guests.

“Keeping them calm when the doorbell rings or when new people come into the house, start practicing — teach your dog to sit or stay when guests come to visit and offer treats as a reward for good behavior,” says Dr. Bernal.

During your party, make sure your dog is safe and doors leading outside are always closed when not in use. Inform your guests not to walk your dog. “When guests are in the house, offer treats again as a distraction and reward for calm behavior,” adds Dr. Bernal please.

If your dog is particularly anxious, it may be best to keep him safely in another room with a radio or television on.

Recommendation from Dr. Bernal: “If your dog just can’t handle the crowd, create a comfortable space in a room where he can relax. Adding things like toys they love or a bed they enjoy will keep them calm and quiet. And of course check your puppy regularly and make sure you have enough water and the right portion of food.”

Keep the trash safe

A border collie chews on garbage after knocking over a trash can.

(Photo credit: Ashley Cooper/Getty Images)

Of course, with every party comes a lot of waste. The trash can be full of food items and interesting smelling garbage, which can be very tempting for dogs.

“Another thing to keep an eye on is the plastic grass used to decorate Easter baskets. If your dog ends up in the trash, such as wraps, the fake grass can cause intestinal blockages and upset,” says Dr. Bernal.

Make sure the trash can is secure and out of reach. “Placing the trash can under the sink or in the garage creates physical barriers that prevent dogs from entering,” recommends Dr. Bernal on.

Put something heavy on the lid if you have no other choice, and tell the guests to keep the trash out. “There are also certain bins – such as those with pedals and lids – that are generally difficult for dogs to access. That’s a great idea if you have your dog’s waste within easy reach,” Dr. Bernal adds.

Don’t leave the food out of sight


(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Leftover food should be quickly discarded or stored where it cannot be reached by your dog. Easter food can be very appealing to dogs, but it can also be full of things that are poisonous.

For example, grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs, as are macadamia nuts and several other foods. Greasy, salty and fatty foods can cause diarrhea, upset stomach or more serious conditions if eaten in large amounts.

If your dog does eat human food, keep an eye out for unusual symptoms. “Look for sudden changes in behavior – if your pup is usually trotting around, socializing with guests or wagging their tails, and they are suddenly lethargic or withdrawn, something may be wrong. If you notice a loss of appetite, repeated vomiting or diarrhea, there may be can also be a problem,” says Dr Bernal.

It is important that you look out for these symptoms as you know your dog best. Don’t rely on guests to point out when your dog is behaving unusually. It’s your responsibility.

“Every pet parent knows their dog’s habits and mannerisms, so they will know if something is not right. If you think there is a risk of illness, call or visit the vet,” adds Dr Bernal.

If you want some safer food to treat your dog at Easter, Dr. Bernal WHIMZEES all-natural daily dental chews that come in cute shapes like alligators and hedgehogs that are perfect for doggy Easter basket stuffers.

Small toys and plastic eggs can be dangerous

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If you’re giving the kids Easter baskets at your gathering, chances are they’ll have plastic eggs, fake plastic grass, stuffed animals, small toys, or other fun items. However, these items may not be much fun for dogs who swallow them.

Not only do they pose a choking hazard, but they can break into sharp pieces and cause internal damage, or they can cause gastrointestinal blockages.

When kids are done playing, put them away. If you’re hiding plastic eggs, make sure they’re all accounted for when everyone’s finished looking.

Some dog parents enjoy Easter egg hunts with their dogs, and that’s fine as long as dogs are supervised. dr. Bernal says:

There is nothing more effective than keeping your dog close and going on a hunt. Dogs are curious creatures by nature and are likely to put plastic Easter eggs in their mouths. Once your dog has found an egg, empty the contents for them to enjoy and keep the plastic shell with you. There’s no reason to miss out on a fun Easter egg hunt for dogs, but keep an eye out for the action!

Of course, you can also hide real eggs for your dog to find. “If you want to add eggs, using real, hard-boiled eggs is completely safe,” Dr. Bernal says.

What other Easter safety tips do you have for fellow dog parents? Is your dog going to be part of your Easter celebration? Let us know in the comments below!

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