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Easter hazards for pets

Published: 
Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter is a lot of fun—the pouitrees are in bloom, kite season  is here again, hot cross buns are baking, sales of chocolate soar, and the kids are home from school.

While our pets tend to join in the celebrations, be aware of some of the hazards associated with Easter to prevent an expensive emergency visit to the vet or worse.

It is traditional to give gifts of chocolate eggs at Easter time, but we should limit this sharing to our human companions and not give chocolate to our pets.

Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine.

These are methylxanthine compounds that can be harmful to dogs, cats, and other pets.

Humans can metabolise and excrete methylxanthines much more efficiently than other animals, so chocolate is not toxic to us.

If you suspect that your pet has eaten chocolate, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Do not wait for the warning signs which can take up to 12 hours to show up and which include extreme thirst, diarrhoea, pacing, panting, staggering, laboured breathing, vomiting, abdominal pain, tremors, fever, heart rate increase, arrhythmia, seizures, coma, and death. The stimulants in chocolate remain in the body for a long time and in severe cases symptoms can persist for up to 72 hours.

Decorative Easter eggs roll around and are made of brightlycoloured plastic. These are tempting for pets to play with and chew on.

However, these can be swallowed and cause an obstruction, or if they are broken, the sharp edges can cause cuts in your pet’s mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines. Plastic Easter grass, foil wrappings, and Easter toys used for decoration and fillers for Easter baskets are usually colourful, shiny and make a crunching sound that attracts the attention of pets. If these are ingested, they can quickly become deadly, or require a costly emergency surgery to remove them.

Some people use real eggs but choose to paint them with food dyes. Pets may be attracted to the colours but also the scent of food. Most egg dyes are safe but ensure that you purchase those that are non-toxic because some food dyes have been found to be carcinogenic (cancer causing).

Hot cross buns are yummy for humans, but they contain dried fruit such as raisins, sultanas and currants and all of these are toxic to dogs. They can cause severe kidney damage leading to sudden kidney failure which may be fatal.

Easter lilies are beautiful for decorating your home to celebrate this holiday. However, cats are extremely sensitive to the plant. Even simply licking the flowers, leaves or stems can cause kidney failure, so it is best to avoid using this plant in your home if you have a cat.

Most of us look forward to a delicious Easter lunch or dinner but it is best to not give your pet treats or leftovers from this meal.

Holiday meals tend to have a higher fat content than the foods we eat on an ordinary day and these fatty foods can cause an upset stomach or pancreatitis.

In addition, if your dishes contain ingredients such as onions, garlic, avocado, chives, mushrooms or bones that can splinter, they can be dangerous to your pets.

We also tend to snack more on foods such as nuts over a holiday and our pets may end up begging more.

Macadamia nuts contain an unknown toxin, which can affect the digestive and nervous systems and muscle, so don’t share these with your pet. Use healthy snacks instead such as fresh fruit and vegetables, cooked eggs or cooked meats without sauces and heavy seasoning.

Keep your pet happy and safe this Easter!

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