Easter baskets, hostess gifts and family holiday dinners are all common celebratory traditions on Easter, but they may pose hidden dangers to cats, dogs and other pets. This list of foods and products to keep away from your pet will help keep them safe over the holiday weekend and prevent any unexpected emergency visits to your veterinarian.
Easter Grass: The colorful, plastic grass at the bottom of Easter baskets is especially tempting to cats and puppies. If swallowed, it can become entangled around their intestines and cause serious medical issues.
Chocolate: The caffeine and fat in chocolate can cause physical distress in both dogs and cats, but it is a substance known as methylxanthines theomobrine in cocoa beans that is potentially deadly if consumed by a dog.
Candy: Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in candy and gum. It is especially toxic to dogs and ferrets. If ingested by these animals it can cause hypoglycemia, seizures or possibly liver failure.
Easter Lilies: This lovely flowering plant is often given as a gift during the holiday or added to a home’s holiday décor as a fragrant sign of spring, yet every part of the plant is toxic to cats. Eating parts of the plant isn’t the only worry with the lily, if a cat brushes up against the plant and the yellow pollen from the flower gets on their fur, they risk illness if they lick the pollen off their fur to clean themselves.
Fatty Foods: Ham is a common main entrée for Easter dinner, but it is also a very fatty food that is potentially toxic to dogs and cats. Any high-fat food consumed by pets can lead to a serious and potentially deadly illness known as pancreatitis.
Onions: It takes a very small amount of onion to poison a dog or cat. Thiosulphate is a substance in onions that wreaks havoc on these animals. Onion is a base ingredient in many foods, sauces and dressings. Therefore, it is important not to feed any table scraps to your pet because of the inherent risk of onion poisoning. Even if you don’t see bits of onions in a food, it could contain onion powder, which is just as toxic to dogs and cats as an onion.
Garlic: Listing garlic as a danger to pets may be confusing to some people since it is an ingredient often found in some pet treats, but the ASPCA maintains that in higher concentrations it can cause digestive upset and red cell damage in some pets.
Yeast: Holidays are often a time when people make homemade bread, but beware if your pet sneaks a bite of the raw bread dough. The yeast in the dough can rise in their stomach from the heat of their body and make them quite ill.
Alcohol: A curious pet that laps up a guest’s abandoned cocktail, beer or wine may seem amusing at first, but alcohol of any kind is toxic to both dogs and cats and should be taken quite seriously if consumed.
Desserts: Whether you want to serve healthy fruits or rich baked goods for dessert, there are dangers in each of them for your pet. Among the healthier options, a bowl of fresh fruit may seem harmless, but it’s toxic to dogs if it contains grapes.
If you are serving any sugar-free baked goods, chances are they contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is poisonous to both dogs and ferrets. Rich desserts that are made with heavy cream and butter can also be dangerous to both cats and dogs because their digestive systems can’t handle the high fat content, potentially leading to pancreatitis.
When celebrating Easter, Passover or another spring holiday, most pet owners want to include their pets in family and holiday celebrations. Yet when doing so, it is important to remind guests not to feed any table scraps to the family pet and to remain vigilant about keeping them away from these 10 holiday dangers. If your pet ingests any of these items over the holiday weekend or beyond, contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Control Poison Center at 888-426-4435.