Spring has finally sprung! The sun is out, the flowers are blooming, and Peter Cottontail is on his way! Easter is right around the corner and this year is extra special because we get two holidays in one as Easter falls on April 1st this year allowing us to celebrate tricks and treats in one day but wait isn’t that another holiday? Well we get two rounds of it in 2018 which also means we get double the toil & trouble with our pets this year, wait…. Back to Spring, we often get so caught up in our excitement for Easter and warm weather that we forget about the hazards some objects bring to our cats and dogs during these celebrations. So, here’s just a quick reminder of things that could cause potential harm to your beloved fur-family!
The most common thing that people are aware of when it comes to holidays and your pets is chocolate, yes chocolate is toxic not only to dogs but to cats as well. Theobromine is the chemical ingredient in cocoa that animals are toxic to and the toxicity of chocolate is based off of the amount of theobromine in the chocolate and the weight of the animal. Anything over 45mg is considered toxic and possibly lethal to dogs however every situation is different, different chocolates vs different types/weight of canines can result in different outcomes. The best way to keep your pup safe is to be able to access the situation if your dog has consumed chocolate and what signs to recognize if your clever canine hid the evidence of eating that delicious bunny that went missing from the basket.
First thing to remember is that different chocolates have different percentage of theobromine in them. The easiest way to remember is: the darker the chocolate the higher percentage. White chocolate has very little amount, milk chocolate has about 44-64mg of theobromine per ounce of chocolate, dark chocolate is going to be the most toxic to your animals unsweet Baker’s chocolate has about 450mg per ounce. That’s a big difference from milk chocolate. To give a better visual; an 80lbs Lab would have to consume 3lbs of milk chocolate for it to potentially be lethal to the animal that same Lab would only have to consume 3.5 ounces of Baker’s chocolate to have the same toxic effect as the milk chocolate. Again, every situation and every animal is unique which is why it is important to recognize some important signs that your cat or dogs possibly consumed chocolate. Although many cats often do not bother with chocolate there are a few who might get curious, symptoms for felines are vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increase heart rate, or seizures. For canines: vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, increase heart rate and body temperature. If your pet is in any way acting sick or lethargic and you believe they may have gotten into chocolate take them to your vet immediately as the most important thing is to get the toxins out of their system as quick as possible.
Another food hazard that people are not always aware of are sugar-free treats. The sugar substitute in these candies is called xylitol. It is very toxic to animals and can cause hypoglycemia which can be fatal causing things such as liver failure. Some of these candies you will see around Easter include gum, jelly beans, gummies, licorice, and lollipops. Consumption of sugar-free candies can cause a lot of the same symptoms as chocolate some more severe signs associated with candy consumption are your pet becoming disoriented or collapsing. If this occurs please get your pet to the nearest emergency clinic.
Foods are not the only things that your curious four-legged friends can get into. We all love a good Easter egg hunt and this year someone might find it clever and funny to fill those bright colored eggs with something not so appealing to your kids! Like maybe dog kibble? Grass? Or something else? Some of you may be better masterminds at ways to slightly pick on your kids, it’s all in good fun of course and it never gets old to see those pouty looks on children’s faces but just remember your pupper has a better sniffer than your kid and will more than likely find those delicious eggs before they do and eat the plastic eggs along with the contents inside. The sharp torn pieces of plastic could do serious damage to your dog’s intestines and other vital organs. The eggs could also become a choking hazard, as we know a lot of the time dogs try to swallow things before completely chewing them. These potential hazards don’t mean that you have to keep your dog shut off from all the festivities, they are enjoying the holiday as much as their human counterparts but keeping an eye on their whereabouts, know where the eggs are, or just having your pet on a leash can go along way in having a great holiday.
We have talked a lot about dogs and the hazards surrounding them but cats are not exempt from getting into something on Easter. Although they may not be interested in chocolate or candy (but remember it is toxic to them too!) they have their own fascinations surrounding the holiday. The Easter basket seems to be the most “caution zone” area for your pets, your kitties may not be interested in the sweet stuff but they are very interested in the stuff under all those goodies: yes, your cat will go for the Easter grass in the basket. Most Easter grass is made of small strings of plastic and just like the plastic eggs for your dog are no good the grass for cats is very dangerous.
First off the grass comes in a variety of bright colors and cats love bright colors, they will be attracted to it from across the room and to them it just looks like a huge bowl of pretty and delicious spaghetti and because they are kittens and rulers of the household natural this meal was especially prepared for them. The dangers of your cat consuming the Easter grass however is no joke, cats have very small organs and eating something so compact and stringy results in abdominal and intestinal blockage. Removal of Easter grass from a cat’s organs can only be donethrough surgery by a veterinarian. A very important thing to remember if you see a string hanging out of your cats mouth (or backside as well) NEVER pull on the string, this will result in intestinal damage; the best way to think of this is your cats intestines are like a drawstring effect when you try to pull on the string, this is why surgery is the only safe way to remove the string/ grass from your pet. Keeping an eye on your feline around the Easter baskets is essential but there are signs if they find a way to sneak into that appealing treat: abdominal swelling or sensitivity, lack of energy, loss of appetite, and trouble urinating or defecating are all signs that your cat has some type of blockage and should be taken to your local vet.
One last thing to be aware of when it comes to your cats is plants. We all know cats love to nibble on plants and as spring time comes around we start to bring more and more flowers into our homes. Once again, our regal fur-babies will be happy that the human brought them lovely treats to enjoy but one plant we should be aware of this holiday is Easter lilies. Many of us bring these into our home in spirit of Easter without realizing they are very toxic to cats. Anything from nibbling on the plant, to drinking the plant water, even if the pollen gets on your kitty’s paws and they lick it. However your cat interacts with the plant it can be very dangerous possibly resulting in kidney failure causing symptoms such as vomiting, change in appetite, and increase or decrease in urination. If you have Easter lilies in your house just make sure you keep an eye on your little acrobats and don’t let them jump up on the counter that’s displaying your beautiful lilies.
Hazards are a part of everyday life when you have pets, it just comes with the territory of owning an animal and during holidays often hazards becoming a little bit bigger problem but this doesn’t mean that we spend the whole time worrying and not enjoying the holiday. Your pets are family and they want to share in the memories of being together with you, so include your pets in the activities and enjoy being together as a family. Knowledge and awareness are the best defense for your furry family members and hopefully after reading this you are more knowledgeable and aware so every member of your family two-legged and four-legged can be together and enjoy Easter. Remember: they love being with you and depend on you to be their protectors.
Have an Amazing and Safe Easter!
By: Deanna Smith