Easter Precautions For Pets6 min read
It seems that every holiday that arrives as the year’s calendar unfolds brings with it temptations that can get any pet into trouble. By taking Easter precautions everybody can have a good time. It is great to involve dogs and cats in the festive, holiday spirit but it is important to do your best to keep them safe. We all know the true meaning of Easter- the resurrection of Jesus Christ- but Easter egg hunts and rolls are part of childhood fun that I even enjoyed when I was a child 100 years ago. I think I ate too much chocolate and wondered why my GI tract felt that the bottom dropped out of it!
Around the country there are celebrations that are just for pets. People can have fun with their pets at dog parks where special Easter egg festivities are held each year. Children can be involved but what happens if both the dog and child find the egg at the same time? Each will claim it as their own. Just watch for any signs of canine aggression. Enjoy the beauty of the season but watch out for the following problem areas. Now is the time to take Easter precautions.
CHOCOLATE GALORE IN BUNNY SHAPES
Valentines and Easter have one thing in common- tons of chocolate all over the place. Instead of heart shaped bonbons the chocolate is molded into many derivations of the Easter bunny. Hollow bunnies and solid bunnies are available to satisfy any sweet tooth. Chocolate is absolutely sinful and delicious. It also contains two stimulants- theobromine and caffeine. In high doses chocolate ingestion by pets can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases arrhythmias can develop. The lighter the chocolate the less caffeine and theobromine it contains. Baker’s chocolate is perhaps the most concentrated in stimulants. Take Easter precautions by supervising pets when children are finding the baskets full of goodies. Dogs will compete with the kids to grab the chocolate. Let the pets have a good time but keep them away from chocolate. Candy is not as bad but an excess can cause a GI upset.
EASTER LILLIES ARE BEAUTIFUL
Easter lilies are a big part of the Easter season. Church altars around the world are stuffed with the beautiful flowers.
The problem is that the entire plant is toxic from the flower all the way down to the leaves and stem. Cats are fanatical about houseplants. Do they eat them out of boredom? Out of a nutritional deficit? Do they think they are cows? Cats, dogs and humans cannot digest cellulose! When dogs or cats ingest lily plants they will develop renal failure. If you see this happen call the emergency clinic and get a dose of hydrogen peroxide to offer the animal to get the pet to throw up the part of the plant it ingested. Veterinary care is mandatory to prevent death from renal failure. Activated charcoal plus intravenous fluids are part of the treatment plan. One of the most important Easter precautions is to keep lilies far far away from all pets.
EASTER GRASS AND THE WOODEN BASKET
Dogs will eat just about anything. This is what always gets them into trouble. Easter grass is the multi-colored synthetic grass like material found in Easter baskets. Could you imagine that stuff in your GI tract!! That material is like concrete. If a dog swallows that it can form an obstruction anywhere throughout the intestinal tract. This requires emergency surgery to remove. Cats are a bit finickier. They won’t chow down a whole basket container of Easter grass but separate the material with their teeth to form a long piece of string. Cats are fascinated by linear foreign bodies. Examples of this are: string, rope, twine, balloon string, yarn and the list goes on and on. Ingesting Easter grass will cause peristalsisThese are the muscular contractions of the intestinal tract that propel food from the esophagus to the colon and rectum; where wastes are eliminated from the body. A complete shutdown of intestinal motility is called ileus. If not corrected it is always fatal. to stop. The small intestine then form pleats that look like an accordion. Emergency surgery is always needed to correct this.
Dogs love to chew and swallow wood but it can play havoc with their gastrointestinal tract. A fine, dark wicker basket would be a true delicacy to the average Labrador Retriever. These fine woods are woven together to form a fine mesh. They also have sharp ends which can lead to esophageal, stomach or intestinal perforations. If the dog swallows enough of the wood it could also lead to an obstruction. Easter precautions such as keeping an eye on all wooden baskets is a must!
PLASTIC AND REAL EASTER EGGS
There cannot be an Easter without the Easter eggs! They can be beautifully colored like those shown above or can be made of plastic. Many of those plastic varieties often contain treats inside of them. This is great for kids but a plastic egg, if swallowed, can easily obstruct a dog. You might ask, how could a dog swallow THAT? Easily. To put things into perspective I once took an entire pair of women’s pantyhose out of a Doberman Pinscher’s intestinal tract. Dogs could swallow the kitchen sink if you let them. Again, Easter precautions are important when it comes to any Easter toy or egg product.
Many people also use real hard-boiled eggs for baskets and Easter egg hunts. A boiled egg will not hurt a dog. It is a healthy treat for any dog every once in a while. It contains essential fats and proteins that provide calories and add luster to the coat. The problem is when the Easter egg hunt is long past and the dog finds one of those colorful eggs. By that time the egg has spoiled and can make a dog ill. Just make a note where you put all those baskets and colored eggs so you can easily remove them after the fun is over.
Happy Easter to everyone!