Watch Tip: Easter Traditions Can Kill Pets

Posted on April 23rd, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoWeekly watch tip for the week of April 24:

Easter traditions can kill your pets. Easter lilies, Easter baskets, Easter gatherings—all are dangerous! Keep your pets in closed rooms or crates during parties so they do not get into trouble while you are busy. Remember, an over-stimulated pet can bite or scratch your visitors. IMPORTANT: immediately put your potted lilies and baskets high up and out of reach of inquisitive cats and dogs. Instruct your children to hide their baskets in drawers or closets.

The Pet Poison Helpline is fully-staffed and ready for business this weekend!

It’s too bad that cats and dogs don’t come with “warning” labels! If they did, certainly fewer of them would die during the Easter holidays. Keep this number handy if you have pets and plans for a traditional holiday in your home: 1-800-213-6680. This helpline is staffed by board-certified veterinary internal medicine (DACVIM) and emergency critical care (DACVECC) specialists and costs just $35 per call. Easter dangers include:

  • Easter Lilies are deadly to cats if eaten. Even small pieces of plant leaves and flower petals can cause sudden kidney failure and result in death. Do not grow these plants in your yard if you have cats or wandering cats live nearby: Easter, Tiger, Asiatic, Stargazer, and Day lilies. Emergency veterinary treatment is required to save your cat.
  • Easter grass can be deadly to cats if eaten. Cats will swallow strands of Easter basket grass, string, rubber bands, and thread. (They will even swallow needles.) Long strands of grass or thread or string can wind around the intestines, resulting in blockages that cut off circulation or it can “saw” through and cause death to intestinal tissues. Surgery can save your cat if diagnosis is prompt.
  • Chocolate candies and baked goods are toxic, but did you think only to dogs? Guess again. Chocolate is toxic to cats too.  A chemical found in chocolate and cocoa, theobromine, causes vomiting and diarrhea if eaten in small amounts. If your cat or dog eats a lot of it, seizures and heart arrhythmias will result. Immediate veterinary care is required.
  • Sugarless gum and candies sweetened with xylitol are poisonous to dogs. It causes liver failure within days and death can result.
  • Fatty ham scraps can cause digestive upset and pancreatitis in cats and dogs, leading to abdominal pain, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea.

If you are thinking that “my picky cat or dog would NEVER eat that!” you are mistaken, like thousands will be this holiday week. My cat once dragged a box of frozen chopped spinach out of the sink to beneath the dining room table and proceeded to eat about a quarter of the box as if it were a kitty delicacy comparable to salmon. We can’t understand why certain foods appeal to another human. How can we presume to know what our pets want to sample? They like novelty just like we do. They are curious just like we are. Wise up.

Parties are not fun for pets

Most pets are not “party animals.” If you have a very well socialized, relaxed, confident pet in your household, count yourself lucky. Most of us do not. From your pet’s point of view, this is what might be going through his or her head:

“Who is that stranger, and that one, and that little one? What are they doing in MY house? These strangers are making so much noise! They sound kind of like they are barking at each other! I feel anxious.

“They are carrying these boxes. Mmmm something smells yummy and I want to eat it! I’m excited now.

Oh look, the door is open and no one is watching me! I’m going to go outside and find my friend Mugsy and have some fun…

“And that new truck in my driveway, what’s with that? It smells like a strange dog. Oops, here’s another stranger and he is really huge! He is reaching for my head! He is staring right in my eyes! Mom isn’t protecting me, where is she, Mom? Dad? I’m scared!

“I’m all alone and I must stop him before he touches me!”

Emotional roller coaster: That’s what a party is to your pet. Remember, they don’t live like you do. You have a stimulating life every day. You are exposed to many new experiences and new people. Your pets likely live in a bubble and their little daily routines are safe and comfortable. Over-stimulation causes impulsive reactions in your pets just like it does in humans.

Protecting your sensitive pets from confusion, noise, and strange people is a kindness to them and is safer for your guests. Crate them in a quiet corner or keep them in a bedroom with the door closed and put a sign on the door asking everyone to keep it closed. Lock it if children are visiting. Long-term, work to gradually socialize your pets in small, well-controlled situations. There are many resources available on this topic.


    2 Responses to “Watch Tip: Easter Traditions Can Kill Pets”

    1. hemp says:

      But luck doesn’t always guarantee the safety of pets which is why you should read the list below before heading out on your day’s adventure.

      Check and Re-Check. It might seem obvious but make sure that your pets are inside the house before you pull out of your garage. The last thing you want is to come home and find that one or more of your pets have been missing for hours or that your pets have developed a cold from being outside too long.

      Check the Lights. Many people will forget to turn off the on their Christmas tree before going out to shop on the day after Christmas. Pets are often attracted to bright lights and are fond of gnawing on Christmas trees so the last thing you want is for your pets to chew on the tree or even worse the while they’re still plugged in.

      Food and Water. In the excitement of Christmas some people will forget to feed their pets.

    2. Anna Nirva says:

      Thank you for sharing your good ideas. I agree with you that the excitement of holidays like Christmas and Easter can overwhelm your daily routines; make lists to help you remember!

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