Easter is just around the bend, and while it typically means tons of fun for the kids - Easter egg hunts, colorful Easter baskets stuffed to the brim with chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks and jelly beans galore - it could mean real trouble for some of our other family members: our animals. So while the rest of the family is celebrating this joyous holiday, make sure your dogs and cats stay happy and healthy with a few tips on the potential pet perils of Easter.
#1 - Easter Lilies
Easter lilies are beautiful and symbolic of many of the virtues of the holiday; however, they -- and all other lily flowers -- are deadly poison to cats if any part of the plant is ingested. Families with house cats simply should not risk the lethal danger posed to their pets by having lilies anywhere near their cats. All portions of the plant are poisonous to a cat's kidneys when eaten and, even with prompt veterinary care, treatment is not always successful. Lilies -- as beautiful as they are -- are life-threatening to cats, and the two should be kept far apart.
#2 - Chocolate
While chocolate might taste good to the kids - and parents -it can be quite dangerous for dogs and cats. Chocolate contains caffeine and a compound called theobromine, which stimulates the nervous system and can be toxic to animals. If enough is ingested, your pet can suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, seizures, and worst-case scenario, death. While all forms of chocolate can be toxic to cats and dogs, white chocolate has the least amount of stimulants. Dark and baking chocolate have the highest.
#3 - Plastic Easter Basket Grass
Easter grass may serve as a nice cushy nest for all the eggs and candy gathered during the Easter egg hunt, but if your dog or cat finds it too tantalizing to pass up, it could cause some real problems. The plastic component of Easter grass is non-digestible, and can get tangled in your animal's intestines. This can lead to a blockage and potential perforation. If ingested, the grass can cause choking or become lodged inside the stomach or intestines, creating an obstruction. Signs of obstruction are loss of appetite and vomiting. Animals showing these symptoms should be taken to the veterinarian for an abdominal x-ray. This problem is treated with surgical removal of the foreign material and is considered a true emergency.
#4 - Other Candy
Chocolate is not the only candy finding its way into the Easter baskets that often sit at eye-level to your dog or cat. There are jelly beans, puffy marshmallow chicks, candied eggs and more, all of which can cause gastrointestinal disturbance in animals. Most threatening though are products containing Xylitol, an artificial sweetener. Xylitol can be so toxic to pets that within 30 minutes of consuming a small amount of a Xylitol-sweetened product, a dog can experience a dramatic drop in blood sugar, begin vomiting, become lethargic and have difficulty standing or walking. Some may have seizures, develop internal hemorrhaging and lesions, and suffer liver failure.
#5 - Rotten Easter Eggs
Easter egg hunts are tradition for most families, and an event children always look forward to. So may your dogs, which is why it's important to keep track of where all the hard-boiled eggs are hidden when planning your backyard Easter egg hunt. Many animals have become sick after sniffing out and consuming a rotten Easter egg that was likely forgotten from a previous hunt. If possible, use plastic eggs instead of real eggs. However, if you do use plastic eggs, make sure your dog can't get inside them and eat the contents or worse yet, try to swallow the plastic egg and choke on it, or get it lodged in his intestine.
#6 - Candy Wrappers
Aluminum or plastic candy wrappers can also be a potential pet hazard during Easter. Many pets (especially dogs and cats) are naturally drawn to the texture, bright colors, and crinkly sounds wrappers make and often unintentionally consume while playing. Consumption of these items can cause intestinal disturbances and even an intestinal obstruction in your animal.
#7 - A Real Live Easter Bunny
What's more tempting on Easter than to bring home the "real thing," a real live Easter Bunny? If this is something you're thinking about, think again. Rabbits are not toys, nor are they low-maintenance pets. They require the same level of care as a dog or cat and need plenty of room to play -- and hop. While they can be cuddly and affectionate, they can also become easily frightened when held or confronted by other animals. Unfortunately, most rabbits purchased as Easter gifts end up either abandoned on the streets, which is a sure death sentence, or in shelters.
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