Navigating Easter Safety with Pets

Spring is in the air! Easter is a fun-filled time when family assembles, flowers begin to bloom, and treats are consumed. Some favourite childhood memories include creeping down the stairs early in the morning to an Easter egg hunt and an Easter basket filled with goodies, including chocolate bunnies, eggs, and candy, laying on a bed of crinkle paper and wrapped in a beautiful basket covered in glittery foil paper. Sounds like the perfect Easter, doesn’t it?

But what about the furry companions in our lives? How can they partake in Easter celebrations while also being safe? This blog post will explore some ways to keep our fur-iends safe while we enjoy the festivities.

Chocolate Safety

During Easter, the first thing that often comes to mind is chocolate – chocolate bunnies, eggs, and other luxurious delicacies.

Keeping your animals away from chocolate is essential to a fun-filled and safe Easter.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Toxicity of Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs and cats. Beware of dark chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the higher the theobromine content. This useful Dog Chocolate Toxicity Calculator can determine the level of risk for your pet.
  • Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning: If your puppy, dog, cat, or kitten gets into your chocolate stash, be aware of the possibility of chocolate poisoning. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures or death.
  • Keep Chocolate Out of Reach: The best-case scenario is that your animal doesn’t get into the chocolate Easter basket in the first place! Stash your goodies on a high shelf. Dogs might be motivated to sniff out and consume these treats, so keeping them out of reach is your safest bet.

Other Food Safety

When pets consume human food that they shouldn’t, either when left unattended or offered by good-intentioned but unaware people, it can lead to problems for us and our pets. Besides chocolate, additional foods to watch for include:

  • Uncooked meat: Bacteria like Salmonella in raw meat can be harmful to pets. Meat such as ham can also be high in sodium, which is not healthy in large amounts. Never give an animal meat with bones in it, as it can be a choking hazard.
  • Bread dough: The yeast in uncooked bread can cause expansion of the dough in your pet’s stomach, which can put pressure on their organs and cause their stomach to bloat. Be careful when offering your pet a tasty morsel of Pane di Pasqua (an Italian-style Easter bread), or those delicious hot cross buns!
  • Alcohol: High levels of alcohol are dangerous to your pet, even if they are used for cooking purposes! Don’t forget about other foods that may contain alcohol, such as fruitcakes, Easter Trifles, rum cakes, hot-cross buns with glazes, and alcohol-infused chocolates.
  • Candy and artificial sweeteners: High amounts of sugar can negatively affect your pet. Xylitol (often found in chewing gum, sugar-free candy, and peanut butter) is extremely toxic to dogs and cats, even in small amounts, and can require immediate veterinary care if your pet eats anything containing it.

Dr. Michelle Meckelborg, Head Shelter Veterinarian at the EHS advises that:

“Xylitol causes a rapid drop in blood sugar, resulting in hypoglycemia, which typically manifests as weakness, stumbling and glassy eyed appearance. It can progress to seizures within 8-12 hours of ingestion.”

It’s important to pay attention to the amount of human food your pets are getting, even if they are allowed small samples. If you and your guests each give samples of food high in sugar, fat, and salt to your pets, it can lead to an upset stomach and long-term medical concerns like pancreatitis.

Flower Safety

Did you know that some types of flowers are toxic to animals? Tulips, Hyacinths, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Daffodils, and Chrysanthemums are all toxic to pets.

Here are some tips on how to keep your animal safe around flowers:

  • Identify the Flower: Do your research before buying or gifting a bouquet of flowers to a pet guardian as a thank-you for that delicious Easter brunch or dinner. Ask the florist if they carry any of the flowers mentioned that are toxic to animals. Roses, marigolds, petunias, sunflowers, and Zinnias are considered safe for pets.
  • Flower Toxicity: Lillies are extremely toxic to cats. Even small amounts of pollen or ingesting any part of the plant can lead to kidney failure in felines. Azaleas and Rhododendrons contain toxins that can cause vomiting and diarrhea in pets. The same can be said for Daffodils, which can also, in rare cases, cause heart arrhythmias. Chrysanthemums contain pyrethrins, which can cause mild symptoms in pets, including drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Keep Pets Away: In many cases, the best course of action is to keep your pets away from the toxic flower arrangements. Place them on a surface high enough that your pet won’t reach them, such as a high shelf or a high table. If these flowers are part of your life, please be cautious of leaves and pollen falling into your home, as they can cause problems for your pet.
  • Fake Flowers: While they might not have the allure of a fresh bouquet of lilies, purchasing some fake orchids or some beautiful greenery to add to your home might be a safer bet than bringing a bouquet of potentially harmful flowers into your home.

General Safety Tips

With Easter treats tempting at every turn, safeguarding our pets’ well-being is essential. Here are a few general safety tips to ensure a stress-free Easter holiday:

  • Secure Your Trash Bins: Easter celebrations often involve decorative wrapping and foil, which can be enticing for pets. Ensure garbage bins are secure to prevent pets from rummaging through and ingesting harmful materials.
  • Easter Grass Caution: Be mindful of that beautiful crinkle paper or Easter grass you used to decorate your Easter basket–especially if you have cats or kittens. Ingesting this material can lead to intestinal blockages, so be very cautious if choosing to use these types of materials to decorate.
  • Safe Easter Egg Hunts: Nothing screams Easter like an egg hunt first thing in the morning! The best advice, if you choose to host an Easter egg hunt, is to secure the area and place any goodies out of harm’s way for pets. Better yet–have the Easter egg hunt in an area where pets don’t have any access, reducing the risk of animals finding and consuming candy, chocolate or plastic egg containers, which are choking hazards.

Emergency Preparedness

Being prepared is the best way to enjoy your Easter holiday to the fullest. There are a few ways to be prepared should an emergency occur:

  • Know Your Emergency Vet Contacts: If an emergency should occur, it’s a good idea to have the emergency veterinary clinic’s number in your back pocket. Do some research and determine which vet clinic is the closest to your home and be familiar with the best route to drive there should there be an emergency involving your pet.
  • Act Quickly: You must act quickly should you notice any signs of chocolate or flower poisoning. Seek veterinary assistance immediately if you notice that your pet is not feeling well. Should your pet ingest something dangerous, we recommend you contact your veterinarian or for an $85 USD fee, you can seek guidance from the 24/hr Pet Poison Hotline at 1-855-764-7661. Please note we are not affiliated with this service. You may also find it handy to learn more about potential risks by visiting the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Centre website or, for more in-depth information, the Pet Poison App by VET CPD.

As we bask in the joy of spring and the festivities that come with Easter, it’s crucial to extend our celebration to include the furry members of our families. Whether it’s safeguarding against chocolate toxicity, being mindful of harmful foods, or choosing pet-friendly flowers, these precautions ensure a happy and healthy holiday for both us and our beloved pets.

Here’s to a hoppy and safe Easter for everyone in your family, two-legged and four-legged alike!

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By |2024-04-11T14:17:21-06:00March 1, 2024|