Easter is coming up quickly. It’s huge fun for the kids, but brings a number of potential hazards into play for our four-legged family members. Enjoy your long weekend and Easter egg hunt, but keep it fun by bearing in mind these few reminders to help keep your pets healthy and happy.
Chocolate may taste good to the kids (and parents), but it can be extremely poisonous for both dogs and cats (cats are less likely to eat chocolate as they can’t taste sweetness). Chocolate contains caffeine and a compound called theobromine, which stimulates the nervous system and is toxic to animals. Even small amounts of chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. If enough is ingested, your pet your pet may show symptoms such as hyperactivity, quivering, elevated blood pressure, a rapid heart rate, seizures, and eventually respiratory failure or cardiac arrest. While all forms of chocolate can be toxic to cats and dogs, white chocolate contains the smallest amount of toxin, dark and baking chocolate have the most. If you think your dog has consumed any chocolate, call us immediately. (If we are closed, contact your nearest veterinary emergency facility.) We have a Chocolate Toxicity Calculator that tells us quickly whether your dog has ingested a dangerous amount of chocolate. If your dog has ingested chocolate, we need to induce vomiting as quickly as possible, put them on intravenous fluids for support and treat any other symptoms of toxicity.
Chocolate is not the only candy in Easter baskets. Any sweetened product can cause intestinal problems, but the most hazardous are products containing Xylitol, an artificial sweetener. Xylitol is poisonous to pets. Within half an hour of ingesting even 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. Even more serious symptoms may include seizures, internal hemorrhaging and lesions, or coma. Large doses can result in complete liver failure. If you suspect your dog may have eaten a product sweetened with Xylitol call us immediately at 416-469-1121. If possible have the package available to help us determine how much xylitol your dog may have consumed. If we are closed, contact your nearest veterinary emergency facility.
As you know, easter lilies are terribly toxic and often fatal to cats. Read more about Easter Lily Toxicity. If you think your cat has consumed even a small amount of Easter Lily or pollen, call us immediately. If we are closed, contact your nearest veterinary emergency facility.
Plastic Easter Basket Grass
Shredded plastic easter grass is appealing to cats, and may be ingested by dogs in search of goodies. It is un chewable and undigestible, and the long strands can cause choking or become entangled in the intestine. Entanglement of linear foreign bodies like this can cause the bowel to “pleat” and eventually perforate. Signs of obstruction include loss of appetite and vomiting. If you suspect your pet has eaten plastic easter grass, you should treat it as an emergency and call us immediately. If we are closed, contact your nearest veterinary emergency facility. Surgical removal of the material is usually the only possible treatment, so it is much easier to be careful that your pet is kept away from it.
Toys, Plastic Eggs and Candy Wrappers
Small toy parts, plastic eggs and crinkly plastic or foil candy wrappers make intriguing playthings for cats and small dogs, but they are easily ingested and may cause intestinal blockage. As with the Easter grass above, the usual treatment is surgical removal of the foreign object. Intestinal blockage is a serious emergency–call us immediately. If we are closed, contact your nearest veterinary emergency facility.
Whether your family tradition is to hunt for chocolate eggs, or real painted hard-boiled eggs, make sure you keep track of where everything is hidden, and that everything is found. If your dog finds the eggs days later, they may get eaten without you being aware that your dog has ingested a hazardous substance. The perils of chocolate are described above. Hard-boiled eggs can quickly spoil, and when eaten will cause gastrointestinal illness or even salmonella.
Although the list above may seem quite intimidating, it’s easy to avoid all of the hazards above simply by keeping the eater treats out of your dog or cats reach. We wish you and your family a happy and healthy Easter holiday!