Happy Easter! Many people celebrate with Easter egg hunts, baskets full of fun goodies for the kids, beautiful spring bouquets, and a Sunday feast. For pet owners though, the holiday also poses many hazards. From deadly plants to toxic foods to dangerous décor, here are the six most common Easter pet dangers!
1. Easter Lilies
While they are beautiful flowers, Easter lilies are extremely toxic to cats – as are several other plants of the genus Lilium and Hemerocallis. Easter, tiger, stargazer, daylilies, and many other types of lilies can cause kidney failure if a cat eats any part of the plant, drinks water in the plant’s vase, or inhales or ingests pollen. If you have a cat, DO NOT bring lilies into your home. View ASPCA’s Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant Guide to learn more about which plants are safe and which ones are dangerous to your pets.
Keep those Easter bunnies, chocolate eggs, and other sweet treats out of your pet’s reach! Chocolate contains methylxanthines (theobromine and caffeine) that are toxic to dogs and cats. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more toxic it is, which means baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate are the most dangerous. Chocolate toxicity symptoms will vary depending on the type of chocolate, the amount eaten, and your pet’s weight. In mild cases, chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhea. In more severe cases, chocolate can cause hyperactivity, seizures, and heart failure.
Xylitol is a sugarless sweetener that is commonly found in many products such as gum, breath mints, human dental hygiene products, hair care products, face gels, baby wipes, sugar-free candies, baked goods, condiments, and other foods including jellybeans, puddings, some brands of peanut butter, and pie fillings. Xylitol causes a pet’s blood sugar to plummet, and its ingestion can result in liver failure. Always check ingredients to prevent an accidental xylitol poisoning. If you place candies in plastic eggs or Easter baskets, be sure to keep them out of your pet’s reach. If your dog is a true “treat hound,” inform guests that purses or bags that contain sugarless candy or gum need to be kept away from pets, too!
4. Yeast Dough
Making homemade bread or rolls for Easter dinner? When a pet eats yeast bread dough, it can lead to alcohol toxicity and stomach bloating. The alcohol is produced from fermenting yeast as the dough rises in your pet’s warm stomach. The process can cause a bloated abdomen, vomiting, unproductive retching, and drunkenness. In severe cases, your pet’s stomach can twist (called gastric dilatation volvulus or GDV) which requires emergency surgery.
5. Table Scraps
During dinner, remind kids and guests not to feed your pets at the table. We already covered chocolate and xylitol, but there are several other foods that are hazardous to pets. Ham contains too much salt and can cause sodium poisoning. Meat bones can fracture teeth, cause an intestinal obstruction, and pose a choking hazard. Some side dishes or salads may contain garlic, onions, leeks, or chives – which are all toxic and can damage the red blood cells. Grapes or foods with raisins are also toxic and can cause kidney failure. In addition to toxicity, pets who eat fatty or sugary foods are at an increased risk of pancreatitis.
6. Easter Baskets & Activities for the Kids
If children in your household receive Easter baskets or participate in egg hunts, please keep baskets, plastic eggs, and plastic toys out of your pet’s reach. If you hide eggs around the house or yard, keep track of how many you hid, and ensure that they‘re all retrieved before you release your pet into the same area. Here‘s why these fun Easter gifts can be a concern:
Plastic Grass, Ribbons, and Strings
- If swallowed, the long material can get stuck in the pet’s throat or digestive tract. This may require emergency surgery to remove.
- Children may innocently tie a piece of plastic grass or ribbon around a pet’s ear or tail, constricting blood flow and leading to swelling, pain, and in some cases, severe tissue trauma.
- A pet can accidentally inhale the plastic egg which can cause an obstruction of the upper airway which results in suffocation.
- Pets may swallow the eggs (or broken off pieces) which can cause a blockage of the intestine and require emergency surgery.
- As mentioned earlier, chocolate is toxic to pets, and candies made with xylitol are toxic.
- The high amount of sugar in candy may cause pancreatitis.
- When pets eat candy, they tend to forget to remove the wrappers! A wrapper can cause a severe bowel obstruction and require emergency surgery.
To prevent an Easter pet emergency, please monitor your pets closely this holiday weekend. Keep them away from the potential toxins and hazards, and be mindful of where plastic eggs and Easter baskets are placed. If your pet does get into one of these Easter dangers or experiences any other type of emergency, contact your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital. Both our Oakdale and St. Paul facilities are open 24/7, every day, for curbside emergency care.