Easter is a time of joyous celebration but can also hold some hidden hazards for your dog and cat.
For many of us, Easter is a time to relax and take a well-deserved break from work or studies. Spring is in the air and we look forward to celebrating with family and friends, enjoying fun and food and of course, plenty of Easter eggs!
Unfortunately, Easter is also a time of the year when veterinary clinics see a dramatic rise in pet emergency cases.
Here are 4 easy steps to making Easter a safe and enjoyable holiday for your pet.
1. Keep goodies out of reach
Chocolate is usually in abundance in most households during Easter and is one of the major causes behind emergency calls to the vet. As most of us know, chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats, even in small quantities. Dark chocolate is more toxic than milk chocolate but the processed fat in all chocolate can cause an upset stomach and even pancreatitis. To avoid an emergency trip to the vet during Easter, never leave chocolate unattended where your pet can access it.
Another danger to look out for during Easter is xylitol, an artificial sweetener often found in sugar free candy. While xylitol is perfectly safe for people, it can cause severe hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and even death in dogs. If you think your pet has eaten xylitol, take him to your vet or an emergency animal hospital immediately.
Since cats generally don’t have a sweet tooth, they are less in danger of xylitol poisoning. Nevertheless, many pet owners choose to have a xylitol-free home all year round.
Remember to discourage well-meaning guests from sneaking treats to your furry friend. Non-pet people are often unaware of the dangers involved in feeding human candy to pets.
2. Beware of the Easter basket
Easter baskets are a lovely gift idea for kids and adults alike. If you are a pet owner, however, you need to be aware of the hazards that an Easter basket might contain for your pet.
Small plastic objects, like eggs and toys, and filler materials like synthetic Easter grass, are easily swallowed and likely to cause digestive obstruction, which can lead to expensive surgery.
A pet who has ingested one of the above items may exhibit vomiting, weakness, diarrhoea, pain or bloating. Contact your veterinarian if you notice these signs.
Shredded recycled paper is a pet-safe and eco-friendly alternative to synthetic grass. If you choose to use plastic eggs for your basket and egg hunt, use large-sized eggs that your dog cannot swallow whole. As always in the case of foreign body ingestion, it’s easier to prevent than to treat.
3. Say no to lilies!
Lilies are beautiful, fragrant and festive…and deadly to your cat!
The variety of lily determines whether it is a relatively harmless or potentially deadly plant but most varieties of the Lilium species are highly toxic to cats, including the pretty Easter lily, Lilium longiflorum. Even small ingestions of this plant, such as 1-2 petals, licking pollen from fur or paws, or drinking water from the vase can result in severe, acute kidney failure and death.
If you suspect that your cat has eaten some lily component seek urgent veterinary attention.
Dogs are not affected by lilies quite as drastically as cats but can develop gastrointestinal irritation with vomiting and diarrhoea from chewing on them.
Other popular Easter flowers, such as daffodils and tulips, can also be poisonous for pets. If you have a kitten or puppy at home that might be tempted to dig up bulbs, it’s best to avoid having these plants in your home or garden.
4. Set your pet up for success
When planning for a safe and enjoyable Easter for your pet, most important is sticking to your ordinary daily routine as much as possible, especially if you’re a dog owner.
Destructive behaviour, such as digging up plants, raiding the kitchen or chewing inappropriate items is usually brought on by boredom or anxiety, and can be prevented by keeping your pet well-stimulated.
If you are planning to have family and friends over for Easter, take your dog for a long, vigorous walk in the morning, before your guests arrive. A dog that is well exercised and tired will be better behaved around young children and around people who are unaccustomed to dogs.
Another tip is to feed a small meal before your company arrives. A full tummy will make your dog less inclined to beg at the dinner table.
If there is too much action going on during your Easter party, a cat might be happier having a quiet place where they can get away from it all. If your guests are staying for the weekend, consider creating a safe kitty haven, with food and water bowls, litter box, toys etc., where your cat can escape to.
We wish you and your pet a safe and happy Easter holiday!