THE BLOG

Keeping Your Pets Safe at Easter

04/02/2015 04:58 pm ET | Updated Jun 02, 2015

Easter is a time of joyous celebration for many. Much planning goes into family gatherings and the fun, food and festivities to be enjoyed by children and adults alike. But have you remembered to plan for your pets?

Here are some tips and facts that may help you, your family and your pets all have a happy and safe celebration.

Most of us now know that dogs cannot have chocolate. If you are unaware of this fact, it is important that you keep all chocolate out of the reach of your dog. Pet Poison hotline reports that during the week of Easter, their calls regarding dogs ingesting chocolate increase over 200 percent. A small amount of chocolate in a chocolate chip cookie may not be cause for alarm, the darker bitter chocolate is far more toxic to dogs. Keep a close watch on the Cadbury Eggs, chocolate bunnies and miniature eggs that are so popular this time of year.

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Methylxanthines is the caffeine-like chemical in chocolate and when ingested can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, abnormal heart rhythm and sometimes death. Remember chocolate in things like brownies, cakes, cookies, muffins and chocolate covered fruit and nuts. All of these things are often displayed on coffee tables within reach of your dog.

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Watch out for those small toys and deflated plastic balloons which seem to get littered around the house as they day wears on. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol are also toxic to animals and symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination and difficulty breathing.

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Excessive amounts of sugar found in jelly beans, peeps and malted milk balls are dangerous to both cats and dogs. Candy wrappers can get lodged in your pets' throat if swallowed and can cause choking and intestinal problems.

Green and yellow plastic Easter grass can become caught up at the back of the tongue or in the stomach of your dog making it impossible to pass through their digestive system. It can ultimately cause severe damage to the intestinal tract and require surgery so make sure those Easter baskets are put up out of reach if your pets are going to be included in your festivities.

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Did you know that Easter lilies and so many other species of lilies such as Tiger, Day and Asiatic are all highly toxic to cats? Every part of the lily is toxic and ingesting as little as a few small leaves can cause symptoms of vomiting, appetite loss, dehydration, lethargy, staggering, disorientation, seizures and can lead to kidney failure.

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There is no medication to counteract the effects of toxins in lilies so should you witness your cat licking or chewing any part of a lily, the sooner you can get them to a vet, the better the chances of saving them. The vet can induce vomiting and give activated charcoal to bind poisons in the gut and will most likely start IV fluids to flush the kidneys.

This is something to keep mind if you plant lilies outside in your garden. There are some types of lilies that are less toxic but can still cause symptoms in your cats so you may want to avoid lilies in your outdoor garden or indoor bouquets.

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If you are planning to have family and friends over for the day and your dog is excitable, make sure he/she is taken for a long, vigorous walk or even better for social time and a run at your local dog park. Playing fetch in your back yard for 15 or 20 minutes will do the trick, too... If your dog is well exercised and tired, it won't be as likely to jump and wriggle. This can keep young children and toddlers from being accidentally pushed or knocked over and your dog from being punished for being too rambunctious.

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You may also want to feed you dog a small meal before company arrives so they aren't hungry. If they happen to be little beggars, a full tummy will make them less inclined to do so.

Remember also that very young children don't always understand that cats and dogs do not like their tails pulled or their noses grabbed. Young children are often unaware of their own strength and tend to bang on animals when they are really trying to just pat them. Animals do not understand this and may react by scratching or in a dog's case, lurching forward to get away which may scare your toddler.

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If the same care goes into preparing your animals as preparing your home for guests, many serious and sometimes fatal accidents can be avoided. Keep your vet's number handy and easily accessible at all times just in case. There are some poison control resources listed at the bottom of this article so be sure to keep them handy as well.

Now that you, your animals and your home are properly prepared for visitors large and small, have a wonderful celebration with all your human, canine and feline family members!