As many families prepare to celebrate Easter this weekend, it’s important to keep in mind that this spring holiday may pose potential hazards for our furry friends. Before you hide eggs in your yard and decorate your home, please consider the most common reasons that pets can become ill during the Easter season.
Some of the plants and flowers that are commonly placed around the house and on tables this time of year can cause some serious problems for your pets. All parts of the Easter Lily are highly toxic to cats. Vomiting, loss of appetite and eventual kidney failure result from minimal ingestion of petals, leaves, stem or pollen.
Two other plants that frequently come into homes at Easter time are Cyclamen and Amaryllis. Ingestion of these, too, may result in stomach issues, cardiac and respiratory problems, or seizures.
During the week of Easter, calls to Pet Poison Hotline regarding animals that have eaten chocolate increase 200 percent. Ingestion of a small amount can be devastating to a pet due to the high concentrations of methylxanthines (caffeine and theobromine). Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate pose the biggest threat. Vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity and seizures result.
Chocolate is not the only sweet treat that can harm pets. Many candies and sugar-free gums contain xylitol, a sugar substitute that is highly toxic to dogs. Xylitol rapidly releases insulin into the bloodstream causing an extreme drop in blood sugar, seizures, and liver failure if ingested. Ingestion of any candy by your pet should be considered a medical emergency and lead to an immediate call to your veterinarian.
Easter baskets contain many tempting “toys” for pets that are dangerous. If ingested, Easter grass, plastic eggs, foil wrappings, and small Easter toys can lead to obstruction, gastroenteritis, or pancreatitis. Often, these items have to be surgically removed to save the animal’s life.
If you will be hiding hard-boiled eggs this week, please keep a list of how many and where you hide them. If days later, your pet finds and eats an egg that was not discovered during the Easter hunt, it can make him/her very sick.
It’s always a good idea to make sure that the dyes you are using are non-toxic before you buy them. There are certain food dyes that have been found to be carcinogenic in mice which raises some concern for pet safety.
Easter table foods can be harmful to pets. With all of the commotion in the kitchen, pets are more likely to find a way to “sneak” a forbidden snack. Or perhaps you have an animal friend that is very good at finding the soft-hearted guest who will give in to pleading eyes!
Pork roasts are dangerous due to the fat content and consequent risk of digestive upset and pancreatitis for pets. Also, the twine that holds these cuts of meat together makes a tasty “toy” that when swallowed can obstruct your pet’s intestines. Dispose of it safely.
Ham has the same dangers as pork roasts with the addition of a high salt content. If a pet ingests too much, neurologic signs can develop.
Uncooked dough can cause an emergency trip to the veterinarian. Please leave it to rise on a high shelf, in the microwave, or in a closed oven. The live yeast that it contains can become “active” in the warm stomach of a pet if ingested. As a result, sugars in the dough are converted to carbon dioxide and alcohol. Expansion of the stomach causes bloating and the high alcohol creates metabolic illness.
Last, keep all drinking alcohol out of pet reach. Ingestion of very small amounts will lead to a dangerous drop in blood sugar and body temperature.
Disorientation and seizures may result.
Easter is a great time to celebrate with family and friends. Just remember to keep your fur friends happy, healthy and safe.
Please spread the word that the Easter Bunny had a checkup this week at our hospital and is VERY healthy.