Bunnies, painted eggs and chocolate, oh my! Easter brings lots of fun and often, warmer weather too, which may be why so many people look forward to this holiday every year. With all the excitement, it’s important to be aware of the Easter items that can be dangerous for your pets and avoid them whenever possible.
Dogs and chocolate don't mix! Chocolate is very toxic to pets, and is more commonly sought out by dogs than cats due to their keen sense of smell and sweet tooth! The darker and more bitter the chocolate – like baker’s chocolate or semi-sweet – the more poisonous it is. While milk and white chocolate pose less of a threat, they should still be kept out of reach of pets. If a dog has ingested chocolate, they may show symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate, and in extreme cases, seizures.
There are plenty of other sugary options at Easter for those who don’t like chocolate. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used in a many candies, baked goods and chewing gum that can be very toxic to dogs. Keep these sweet treats out of reach!
Easter lily plants or bouquets are very popular around this holiday. True lilies, such as Easter lily, Day lily, Stargazer lily and all Asiatic lilies, are highly toxic to cats, but are far less of a concern to dogs. Peruvian lilies are not true lilies and therefore are not an issue for your household pets. Cats that have been exposed to true lilies through direct or indirect ingestion or from grooming itself after brushing up against the flower and getting pollen on its coat, can experience rapid and significant kidney failure. Cat owners should avoid plants or bouquets of flowers that contain true lilies. If you think your cat has been exposed, seek immediate medical attention. Bring the plant with you to the veterinarian so they can treat the specific poison more effectively. If caught early, the prognosis is good. If not treated within the first 18 hours, the outlook is very grim.
You may also find daffodils in your Easter bouquets. These flowers contain lycorine, an alkaloid with emetic properties that triggers vomiting. Ingestion of the daffodil’s bulb, plant or flower can cause severe reactions, including vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and possible cardiac arrhythmias or even respiratory depression. Akin to tulips, daffodil bulbs also contain tissue irritants. If ingestion is suspected, seek veterinary assistance.
Easter grass is the fake coloured grass that can be found in surplus at your local dollar store and is used in many Easter baskets. Curious cats are often intrigued by this decorative grass, but it can be very dangerous if it is ingested and causes a gastrointestinal obstruction, often resulting in the need for abdominal surgery. Signs that your cat may have ingested Easter grass include vomiting, difficulty defecating and a painful abdomen. If you suspect a gastrointestinal obstruction in your pet, contact your veterinarian for help.
If you think your pet has ingested a toxic substance, contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline. If you are a Pets Plus Us member, your call is free as part of your Blue Ribbon Benefits. Refer to your Membership User Guide for the phone number or call us at 1-800-364-8422.
If you don’t have Pets Plus Us pet insurance coverage, you can contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680 with any questions or concerns. Please be aware there is a $39.00US/per case fee but it may save your pet’s life!