Easter is another holiday that can be a wonderful occasion for humans, but filled with dangers for our pets. It's up to us to make sure our best friends are protected from things that can harm them.
Usually around Halloween is when I think of the danger of pets eating chocolate, but I was reminded this week that Easter baskets are often filled with lots of chocolate goodies.
The problem with chocolate is that it contains theobromine which is toxic to pets because their bodies cannot process it very well. In sufficient quantities it can cause seizures, heart problems, liver damage and even death.
How much it takes to harm an animal depends on the kind of chocolate – dark chocolate contains higher concentrations of theobromine than milk chocolate, while white chocolate contains the least. A forty-pound dog eating a half-pound of milk chocolate might show signs of chocolate toxicity. So a nibble or a morsel probably won’t hurt, but the best approach is to keep all chocolate products away from pets.
Even non-chocolate products can be harmful, especially if they contain xylitol, an artificial sweetner used in candy, baked goods and especially in sugar-free chewing gum. Never let your pet have access to anything sweetened with xylitol.
Another danger to our pets at Easter is that colorful plastic grass in the bottom of the basket. Cats really love it, because pieces of it float on the breeze, and it makes intriguing sounds when they poke and paw at it. Like tinsel at Christmas, Easter grass can cause major intestinal problems if eaten, and could require a trip to the veterinarian.
And if you have pretty Easter plants or flowers around the house, take care to keep them away from your pet. Lilies, in particular, are extremely toxic to cats. Tulips, especially the bulb part, can cause serious gastrointestinal problems and can even affect the animal’s nervous system.
One last comment about Easter – bunnies and chicks do not make good Easter pets, unless you plan to raise rabbits or chickens. I agree with the House Rabbit Society that says when it comes to Easter animals, make mine chocolate – but keep it away from my furry friends.
A little care can make for a safe and joyous Easter, when you’re speaking of pets!
If you think your pet has eaten something poisonous, call your veterinarian immediately. Or contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4436. (A fee may be charged to your credit card, but it's worth it if your best friend's life is at stake.)