7 Easter Dangers for Your Pet

For most people Easter brings fond memories of egg hunts, Easter baskets filled with sweet treats galore: chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks, sugary jelly beans and snack-size versions of nearly every candy product imaginable. But be careful! These Easter staples can be dangerous to your petís health. But donít worry, you donít have to give up your favorite traditions to have a safe holiday. Watch out for these hazards, supervise your pets closely and try our substitution tips and everyone can have a Hoppy Easter!

As parents, we often warn our children, "Now don't eat too much or you'll make yourself sick." At worst, a child who stuffs themselves with chocolate may develop nausea and a stomachache. But for our furry friends who get into the Easter goodies, "getting sick" may be the least of it. Many of the sweet treats mentioned above can actually be fatal to dogs, cats and other small animals.

As responsible pet owners, it's our job to protect our pets from harm. And though pet parents routinely give their companion animals human food, this is almost always a mistake.

Yes, many pets prefer to eat what we eat. Yes, household pets (especially dogs) really like sweet, sugary foods. And yes, it feels good to pamper Fido or Fluffy by giving them "just a little taste" of what we're having for supper. But many of the foods that humans enjoy can not only cause illness for your beloved dog or cat, they can even be fatal. And given how small a cat or dog is compared to a human, sometimes it doesn't take much.

The following seven holiday products are the most common Easter dangers:

Eggs - Dyed and Plastic

Shiny plastic eggs may look like toys to your pets. If they chew and swallow the plastic, it can cause intestinal problems that may require surgery. Fresh, hardboiled eggs are not dangerous, but eggs spoil quickly. If days later your pet finds and eats an egg that was undiscovered during the Easter hunt, it can make them very sick. Tip: Keep track of the number of eggs hidden and make sure all are accounted for at the end of the hunt.

Easter Grass

Cats are especially attracted to these shiny shreds, and just like tinsel, ingesting this "grass" may be lethal. Pets can not digest it, leading to the threads getting stuck in and damaging their intestines. Tip: A better choice? Try using paper, or even real grass!


Most adults already know how dangerous chocolate is for pets, but it is important children know as well. Make sure to tell your kids that sharing with the family pet could make them very sick. Still, supervision is key. Tip: With chocolate bunnies in every basket, and chocolate eggs hidden around the house, it may be best if your pets are in kept in an Easter free zone during the festivities.

Chocolate is one of the most deadly foods for pets (both cats and dogs; dark chocolate is worst, white chocolate has the lowest risk). It's not only high in fat, it contains two nervous system stimulants, caffeine and theobromine. The fat can make your pet vomit or cause diarrhea unpleasant, but usually not fatal. It's the stimulants that can cause death. Theobromine is both a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic. A dog that ingests an overdose of chocolate may be fine at first, but will probably become excited and hyperactive within a few hours. It may pass large quantities of urine and become unusually thirsty. The theobromine will cause your pet's heart rate to accelerate or beat irregularly, either of which can cause death (especially with exercise. )

But it's not just chocolate that's the problem. All sugary foods can cause dental problems, lead to obesity and contribute to diabetes in pets. So be sure to keep your stash of chocolate securely out of your pet's reach.

Children are notorious for sorting and trading candy, so make sure they don't leave candy laying around (or candy wrappers, either, which can cause choking).

And don't forget how flexible and persistent a pet can be when it smells something yummy in a trash bin or garage sack, either.

If you have reason to think that your pet has gotten into the candy, call your vet and describe their symptoms. (Symptoms of chocolate toxicity are nervousness, vomiting, shaking and overreacting to noises, touch, lights, et cetera.)

If your vet is closed, call an emergency vet center. You can also contact the ASPCAís Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 . Please note that there is a consultation fee for this service.

It is up to you to make sure that Easter candy and other dangerous foods are kept securely out of the reach of your household pets so your whole family can enjoy the holiday!

Easter Lilies

These flowers and beautiful and festive, but should be avoided at all costs if you share your home with pets. Easter lilies are one of the most poisonous plants for pets, especially to cats. Vomiting, lethargy and loss of appetite are symptoms of lily poisoning. Cats who take a bite of the flower can die from kidney failure in less than two days if left untreated. Tip: Try faux lilies for the same look without the risk.

Baby animals

Baby chicks, bunnies and ducks may seem like the perfect Easter basket addition, but think twice! Not only do these cute babies grow up into large, adult animals requiring full-time care, but they often carry Salmonella. This harmful bacteria can be transmitted to your children and other pets. Tip: Stuffed bunnies and chicks make a much better choice as Easter pets!

Easter Toys

Those teeny tiny baby chick toys and bendy bunnies may be good basket stuffers for your kids, but to your pets they look like a good snack. Small toys are a choking hazard and should be kept away from cats and dogs. Be sure baskets are kept off the ground, or pets are kept in another room while baskets are being unwrapped. Tip: Make sure all toys and parts are too big for your pet to fit in their mouth.

Holiday CAN BE Minefields for Pets

Avoiding the Easter basket, the Easter flowers, the plastic Easter eggs and the abandoned hard boiled eggs now rotting in various spots around the yard is a difficult task for a pet. Pets are curious. Their noses are much more sensitive than a humanís; they almost can't resist the delicious smells. They don't know those dangers even exist. They depend on you to keep their environment safe. So while Easter may be a wonderful holiday for people, it is a minefield for Fido or Kitty-Cat. It's up to each pet parent to make sure their pets make it through unscathed.

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