The first day of Spring has already occurred but many people associate the Easter holiday with the beginning of this new, and warmer, season. Like all holidays, Easter brings its share of hazards to our pets. Practicing Easter pet safety will ensure that your pet enjoys the fun and avoids the risks.
A basket full of candy is a dream come true for many people, but for pets, it’s a different story.
Chocolate is one of the most well-known toxins. Even in small amounts, chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can be lethal, even in small amounts. Be sure to keep your Easter basket completely out of reach of your pets. If your pet does manage to ingest any chocolate, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Do NOT feed your pet the following:
- Chocolate (can cause vomiting/diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst/urination, hyperactivity, increased heart rate, tremors, seizures, and even death)
- Excessive amounts of sugary treats (can lead to hyperactivity, increased heart rate, upset stomach, vomiting/diarrhea)
- Any food, treats, gum, or candy containing the artificial sweetener, Xylitol (known to cause life-threatening low blood sugar, and liver toxicity). See below for more detailed information.
- Candy/food containing grapes and/or raisins (may cause acute kidney failure)
- Candy wrappers (may cause an upset stomach or intestinal blockages)
See a complete list of toxic foods and plants and their effects at the poison control section of the ASPCA’s website
Xylitol is a common sugar substitute that is used as a sweetener in many products. It is commonly found in:
- Sugar-free gum (most common source of toxicity in dogs): Trident, Orbit, Dentyne Ice
- Low carb/ sugar free diabetic candies
- Sugar free baked goods
- Some dental products and mouthwashes, mints and toothpaste
In humans, Xylitol has no effect on our blood sugar or insulin levels. However, in dogs it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and can cause:
- Profound Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Decreased potassium
- Liver disease/ failure
It takes very little Xylitol to cause signs of toxicity. Depending on the type of gum, it may take only one piece. Xylitol ingestion in cats and other species is not documented at this time. If you suspect your pet ate food containing Xylitol, contact your veterinarian and Animal Poison Control immediately.
Lilies & Other Spring Plants
Members of the Lilium spp. family are considered highly toxic to cats. While the poisonous component has not yet been identified, eating even very small amounts of the plant can cause severe renal (kidney) failure within 24-48 hours. It is very important to seek immediate veterinary care if your cat eats any type of lily.
Since cats are good at leaping and jumping, it may not be possible to place a lily out of reach of your pet. For your cat’s safety, we advise not having these plants in your home.
Other Spring plants also pose a threat to your pets. This includes tulip and narcissus bulbs and amaryllis. To learn more, visit the Poisonous Plants section of the ASPCA's website.
Easter Basket Grass
Easter decorations can be very alluring to pets. Cats are especially fond of the plastic grass used to decorate Easter baskets. If ingested, the grass can cause an obstruction (blockage) in the intestines, and require surgery to remove it. It can also get tangled around the tongue and cause choking.
Unwanted Bunnies and Chicks
Baby bunnies and chicks are undeniably adorable. However, they are living creatures who grow up and require ongoing care, long after the holiday has passed. If you are not able to commit to caring for these animals, please don’t welcome them into your homes. Many end up abandoned outdoors or relinquished to shelters. Stuffed animals and chocolate bunnies are much kinder and safer options.
Please remember that as much as we enjoy Easter and welcoming the spring season, it is important to be aware of the needs of our pets during this time of year. Should your pet experience an emergency, contact your primary care veterinarian or one of Red Bank Veterinary Hospital’s emergency hospitals in Cherry Hill, Tinton Falls, Linwood or Hillsborough by calling (732) 747-3636.