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  • Alternatives To Easter Eggs

    Alternatives To Easter Eggs

    With the Easter weekend fast approaching, many of us will be purchasing Easter eggs and other chocolate treats for friends and family. Many of us see our pets as much loved members of the family and will want them to be included alongside the rest of the family when it comes to giving them Easter treats.  As tempting as it might be to buy your pet a chocolate treat this Easter, chocolate should never be given to your pet, as it can be fatal.

    With an increase in chocolate being present in the house at Easter, it is best not to leave any chocolate in places easily accessible by your pet, and especially if your pet is going to be left unattended for any period of time. Chocolate is very palatable for dogs, meaning that they may seek it out if they can smell any nearby, and although cases of chocolate toxicity in cats are lower than in dogs, it only takes a small amount to be ingested for your cat to become seriously ill.

    Chocolate contains a chemical compound called theobromine, which is present in all forms of chocolate, including baking chocolate, chocolate powder, and chocolate beverages. It is also present in tea, coffee, and cola-based drinks. The reason for chocolate’s severe toxicity to our pets is due to the slow rate in which dogs and cats metabolise theobromine. Humans metabolise theobromine much faster than dogs and cats, once ingested it takes six to ten hours for theobromine to be diluted in the body and then expelled. In comparison, in dogs, it takes 17.5 hours1. This causes theobromine to create a toxic response in the body, resulting in a variety of symptoms developing such as vomiting, diarrhoea, incontinence, seizures, hyperthermia, tachycardia, cardiac arrest, and in many cases, death2.

    With human Easter eggs being so dangerous for our pets, it can be tempting to purchase Easter eggs specifically produced for dogs or cats. Unfortunately, the majority of these treats available on the market contain ingredients that may be detrimental to your pet’s health. Dog and cat Easter eggs use a chocolate substitute called carob. The carob tree is related to the pea and it is the seed pods of the plant that are used as a substitute for chocolate. It does not contain theobromine and is considered safe for dogs and cats. Whilst carob is naturally high in sugar, which in small amounts is unlikely to harm a healthy pet, most dog and cat Easter eggs contain added sugar, often as the first ingredient with carob quite far down the ingredients list. As ingredients are listed in order of quantity, any product which contains sugar as the primary ingredient is unlikely to be beneficial to your pet’s health and could induce hyperactivity and behavioural problems in some pets3.  

    Most Easter eggs produced for pets also contain milk or yoghurt powder.  Dogs and cats are naturally lactose intolerant and do not tolerate dairy in any significant quantity in their diets.  Too much dairy can result in upset stomachs, especially if your pet has a delicate digestive system.  Soya is also a common allergen in dogs and cats and is another ingredient included in most Easter eggs produced for pets. It cannot be digested easily by dogs and can barely be digested by cats, and as a result, provides minimal nutritional benefit to your pet.  If you have a dog or cat with food allergies it is recommended to not feed them carob based Easter eggs that contain soya.

    If you wish to give your beloved pet a treat this Easter, consider a natural, healthy alternative that can keep them happy without the risks of added sugar, theobromine or allergens.  Natural chews such as Ziwipeak Deer Shanks, Billy & Margot Venison Marrow Bones, Lily’s Kitchen Fish Skins, and STAGbars will last a while, keeping your dog distracted while the rest of the family enjoy their chocolate. Alternatively, consider having your own Easter egg hunt with your dog (minus the chocolate) and hide some delicious natural treats around the house or garden for them to sniff out? This will provide mental stimulation for your dog as well as being a fun activity for the family to engage in.

    Your cat can enjoy some tasty treats as well, and if they don’t seem keen on having an Easter egg hunt for their food, you can try introducing a treat ball for them to interact with and keep them occupied.  If you have a cat that loves boxes, you can try making good use of Easter egg boxes (once empty), scrunch up some paper and hide some high reward treats such as Orijen Freeze Dried treats inside.  This will create a fun search game for your cat and they will be rewarded with something tasty over the Easter weekend.