EASTER is a wonderful time of year and the break gives us a chance to spend quality time with our pets.
We all love to celebrate with a chocolate egg and you can include your cat or dog in the fun by getting them sweets they can safely enjoy.
Getty Be sure to treat your pets this Easter, but remember that chocolate can be fatal for dogs
Easter treats for humans can be dangerous for pets as they contain ingredients that can be poisonous.
But, to kick off our new Paws & Claws column, we’re giving you a chance to win animal-friendly treats in our competition, below left.
If you are looking to buy, there are tasty and safe options. Forthglade.com has some that contain carob — a dog-friendly alternative to chocolate.
Grain-free mini handbaked love treats with carob and strawberry cost £2.99 for a 150g pouch.
And for a more savoury Easter treat, tails.com has launched lamb biscuits. These are are hand-baked with peas and mint and cost £2.60 per 100g pack.
It is important to be aware of the potential dangers to pets from the sweets and plants we enjoy.
The Veterinary Poisons Information Service dealt with 12,000 calls last year from worried owners and nearly ten per cent were linked to Easter treats.
Chocolate, sweets, plant bulbs and flowers can all cause harm and last year 48 dogs and 32 cats died after ingesting something dangerous.
Of the calls from dog owners, six per cent were about chocolate, three per cent about sweets with the sweetener xylitol, which can be deadly to dogs, and 2.9 per cent about dried fruit in hot cross buns.
For cats, lilies were hazardous with 4.1 per cent of callers concerned about the flower.
If owners are worried their animal has eaten something dangerous they should visit a vet or call the 24-hour Animal PoisonLine on 01202 50 9000.
Vet Korina Stephens from Nutravet, which manufactures health products for pets, said: “Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine that pets can’t cope with, so even the smallest amount is not recommend
“Hot cross buns contain raisins, or sultanas that are toxic to cats and dogs. Flowers may look innocent but can be toxic. If lilies are ingested they can even cause kidney failure.”
Nicola Bates, lead researcher from The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS), said: “We know the risks of chocolate but owners should be mindful of things in the garden or on walks, that are dangerous.”
Star of the weekMEET Woody the eight-year-old Italian Spinone whose favourite hobby is snowboarding.
Owner Tracy Chapman saw an ad for Manchester’s indoor ski and snowboarding centre Chill Factore offering a Guaranteed To Ski programme.
Dog trainer Tracy, 34, who had already taught Woody to ride a skate-board, said: “It was for humans but we asked them to teach Woody to ski on four paws.
“He loves it. Being confident on his skateboard has helped him balance and doing agility means he’s used to the see-saw moves.
“But we did need to use sausages to get him on the board as well.”
Do you know a Star Of The Week? Email sundayfeatures@the-sun. co.uk and your pet could be in Paws And Claws.
VET Sean McCormack is on a mission to improve the health of the nation’s pets and has tips to help your animal become fighting fit again.
He is head vet at tails.com which provides tailor-made nutritional food for pets.
nb press ltd Martin Trickett has been treating his American Akita called Kaida with antibiotics and steroid creams to help prevent ear infections and itchy rashes
This week, he helps fitness manager Martin Trickett, 30, whose American Akita, Kaida, six, gets ear infections and itchy rashes on its stomach and legs.
Martin, from Burnley, Lancs, has been treating Kaida with antibiotics and steroid creams for four years.
Sean says: “This sounds like a reaction to inhaled allergens. It’s the equivalent to hay fever in humans – except dogs don’t usually sneeze, or get a runny nose.
“Instead they get itchy skin, ears and paws, that become more inflamed or infected when they scratch or chew them.
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“Dietary supplements like essential fatty acids can help maintain the natural skin barrier. A balanced diet tailored with ingredients to support skin conditions is preferable to adding oils directly into your dog’s diet.
“They’re highly calorific and can also upset your dog’s digestion. Steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs fight the itch and antibiotics treat infections. But neither addresses the cause.
“I’d recommend a blood test to identify exactly what your dog is allergic to. Depending on the results, your vet may encourage you to consider immunotherapy, which can teach a dog’s immune system to stop overreacting.”
Do you need the Pet Vet’s help? Email email@example.com and you and your pet could feature in The Sun on Sunday.
Win sweet prizesHERE’S a great chance to give your pet an Easter treat they can safely chomp.
We have ten yoghurt and catnip-flavoured eggs for cats, and ten carob eggs for dogs to give away courtesy of Pets At Home.
Each egg is handfoiled in Lancashire for Pets At Home, and only the finest ingredients are used to guarantee a top taste.
This is a treat your cat or dog will love.
To enter, email firstname.lastname@example.org with CAT PRIZE or DOG PRIZE in the subject line.
Scots dog ‘throws a tantrum’ after owner refuses to let it eat cheesecake