Happy Spring pet lovers!
Now that winter has loosened its icy grip on us here in New Hampshire, our thoughts turn to the first warm season holidays, Easter and Passover. This is a perfect time to talk about the potential hazards that can happen with pets during these celebrations.
During the Passover Celebration, the biggest hazards to be aware of for pets are food items, wine, and visitors to your home. The Easter Celebration, however usually involves additional pet hazards.
Top 8 hazards to be mindful of this Easter season as well as some pet safe alternatives:
If you love decorating your home with plants or fresh cut flowers, you will want to stay clear of using anything from the lily family. According to the ASPCA, Easter lilies, as well as daffodils, are highly toxic to cats if ingested. Vomiting and lethargy are the first signs of plant toxicity. Call your veterinarian immediately if you think that your cat has eaten any part of one of these plants. If left untreated, the toxicity may progress to kidney failure and death. Other springtime plants that can be toxic to cats and dogs include tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, crocuses and lily of the valley.
The ASPCA offers some non-toxic plant and flower alternatives for pets on their website (scroll to the bottom) that will add just as much color to your Easter celebration.
Blue, green, yellow, pink, purple, all the colors of the rainbow…Easter grass is used in decorations and especially in the baskets delivered by the Easter Bunny. It’s fun for kids to search through for those last few treats. However, Easter grass can pose a deadly threat to pets if ingested. Just like Christmas tinsel, Easter grass is considered a linear foreign body by veterinarians. Signs of ingestion include vomiting, straining to defecate, and a painful abdomen. You may also see pieces of the grass poking out of the mouth or anus.
Do not attempt to pull out any visible grass strings as that can cause more internal damage if the piece is long and trapped far inside the animal’s body. While this hazard is more common in cats, dogs have been known to ingest this item too. Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect that your pet has ingested Easter grass. An excellent alternative to Easter grass is Eco-grass, which is made from recycled paper in the U.S.A.
As a pet owner, you should be aware that chocolate is poisonous to furry family members. The toxic components in chocolate are theobromine and caffeine. The level of toxicity is based on the type and quantity of chocolate consumed and the size of your pet. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is for your pet. Chocolate becomes toxic at the rate of 100 to 150 milligrams per kilogram of your pet’s weight. Too much chocolate can cause gastrointestinal upset, pancreatitis, stimulation to the nervous system (hyperactivity, tremors, and seizures) and elevation in heart rate.
According to Pets WebMD, chocolate can be lethal for cats and dogs. Although most cats won’t eat it on their own, they can be coaxed to eat it by owners and others who think they are giving the cat a treat. PetMD provides a chocolate toxicity meter for dogs on their website. This tool helps to take the guesswork out of whether you need to call your Vet or the poison control center if your dog has ingested chocolate. The ASPCA Poison Control Center can be reached 24/7 at (888) 426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.
Candy that contains the artificial sweetener, Xylitol, is toxic to dogs and cats. It can be found in candy, gum and some baked goods. If your pet ingests this, a drop in blood sugar can occur and cause issues such as seizures and liver failure. Carefully read ingredient labels and avoid using candy containing this sweetener in Easter baskets.
Human foods/table scraps
Fatty meats such as ham and lamb can cause intense abdominal and intestinal discomfort for your pet, as well as diarrhea and pancreatitis. Grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, onions, and garlic should also be kept out of your pet’s reach. Each item causes its own form of toxic mayhem on your pet’s cardiovascular, neurologic, and/or digestive systems. Remind your children and guests to not give any human food to the family dog. A properly sized, classic Kong toy filled with dog safe treats and peanut butter, that does not contain Xylitol, then frozen, is a great alternative for pets. Kong also offers many tasty recipes on their website your dog will love.
Stuffed toys, with hard plastic or button eyes and noses, can be swallowed by your pet and cause choking hazards, upset stomach, and intestinal blockage. Plastic Easter eggs can become dangerously sharp foreign objects in your dog’s intestinal tract if he or she chews on and splinters them. Choose appropriate toys and gifts for your children especially if your dog is prone to chewing on things it shouldn’t or if you have a very curious kitty.
Children of all ages love a traditional Easter egg hunt. If you conduct an egg hunt in your backyard or house, you will want to ensure that ALL of the hidden treasures have been found and picked up. If not, your pup may locate instead and potentially suffer the consequences if ingested. As a fun alternative, try hiding all-natural dog biscuits and let your furry and human children locate together.
Keeping your pets inside or in a closed off area of the house while the egg hunt frenzy is going on will help protect them from harmful food/candy and toys, as well as the possibility of injury by being stepped on.
If you dye hard-boiled eggs, use natural food colorings. These originate from a wide range of sources like vegetables, fruits, plants, minerals, and other natural edible sources and are safe alternatives.
If you have an anxious pet that may not do well with large gatherings, it’s a good idea to crate your pets or put them in a room where they will be comfortable away from the hubbub. This will help to keep your pets and guests safe from injury caused by tripping over the pet, the pet jumping up on them, or the pet being stepped on. It will also keep indoor-only pets from escaping the house as people come and go. Play soft music or turn on the TV to create a distraction for your pet while they are relaxing in a safer environment.