Our top 6 tips for a safe and happy Easter with our furry family members

by | Apr 3, 2023

Easter is a wonderful time of the year for family, especially for our human children, but it can unfortunately be a very dangerous time for our fur babies.  Easter time usually sees an influx of new and edible hazards being brought into the home, and it’s important for us as responsible pet owners to take extra precautions to ensure we aren’t spending the holiday at an emergency vet!  Here are some of the most common hazards that our dogs and cats may be exposed to during Easter, tips for treatment, and how to avoid them!

#1 – Keep a close eye on all that chocolate: 

Ah yes, Easter and chocolate go hand in hand, so it’s almost impossible that there wouldn’t be some form of extra chocolate in your home during this time of year, creating an even greater importance to store these extra treats away safely.

Chocolate eggs and bunnies not only have a high fat content, but cacao contains caffeine as well as a compound called theobromine, both of which are highly toxic to cats and dogs, even in small quantities.  These two stimulants affect the central nervous system and the heart muscle.

There is a range of symptoms that will usually occur within the first few hours if chocolate toxicity has occurred, the most common of which are; vomiting, diarrhoea, lack of appetite, irritability, rapid heart rate, tremors, and seizures.  The effects however can last days or longer, depending on the amount of chocolate that has been eaten.  If ingested in large enough quantities, it can be fatal.

So, if you suspect your buddy has been scavenging for a chocolate hit, it’s important that you call your local vet immediately for further diagnosis and/or treatment.  They will be able to give you the best course of action to take for your furry loved one.  It is important to note the quantity and type of chocolate, the time ingested if possible, and also have an idea of the weight of your pet.

Keep chocolate out of reach and avoid hiding Easter eggs close to the ground if your dog or cat is on the prowl!  It’s also a good idea to supervise any young children so that they don’t give chocolate to your pets, or accidentally let them eat it when your kids aren’t paying attention.

#2 – Keep your cat away from Easter lilies:

The Easter lily is one of the most dangerous flowers you can have around your cats.  Along with several of the other varieties of lilies, it will easily put your cat into acute kidney failure. Absolutely any amount of the lily that has been ingested by your cat (this includes the pollen, water, flower and stem) is very likely to cause acute kidney damage and if left untreated, can result in death.

Cats will not necessarily show signs of toxicity straight away, but two to three days after ingestion, they may show symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, not wanting to eat and excessive drooling.  If you remotely suspect your cat has come into even indirect contact with a lily in your house, please contact your local veterinarian immediately for advice.

Dogs who ingest a lily plant will not experience kidney failure like their feline counterparts, however they may experience minor gastrointestinal upset including vomiting and diarrhoea.  If you are concerned about your buddy, be sure to call your vet.

Given the high risks and devastating consequences, the safest thing you can do is to keep any form of lilies out of your home if you have feline friends.

#3 – Any food containing raisins, grapes or currants out of reach:

And now one more for our canine companions.  Raisins, grapes, and currants are common ingredients in hot cross buns, an Easter staple. They can actually cause acute kidney failure in some dogs. Whilst we still do not know what it is in these fruits that are responsible, or how much needs to be ingested for toxicity to occur, we do know that some dogs are susceptible, while others are not. Kidney failure is debilitating, expensive to treat, and often fatal.

The most common early symptom of grape or raisin toxicity is vomiting, which is generally seen within 24 hours following ingestion. Lack of appetite, lethargy, and possibly diarrhoea can be also seen within the next 12-24 hours. More severe signs are not seen for 24-48 hours after ingestion – often after acute kidney damage has already begun. Signs of acute kidney failure include nausea, lack of appetite, vomiting, uremic (ammonia odour) breath, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, excessive thirst, and excessive urination.  As poisoning progresses, the kidneys will stop functioning and the dog may not be able to produce urine.  Following this, the dog’s blood pressure often decreases dramatically.  The dog may lapse into a coma due to a build up of substances which the kidneys usually eliminate from the body through urine.  Once the kidneys have shut down and urine output has dropped, prognosis is very grave.

Keep raisins, grapes and currants, and anything that contains them, well away from your dogs.

#4 – Avoid using Easter Grass:

We are talking about the fake grass that often accompanies Easter baskets as it poses a significant threat to our pets.  When ingested, most often by a curious feline, it can become anchored around the base of the tongue, or obstruct the stomach, often requiring expensive abdominal surgery to remove it.  This is due to the linear shape which may have trouble moving through your pet’s intestines or causes issues to the intestinal tract.  If left untreated, this type of intestinal foreign body can prove fatal to your dog or cat.  After the Easter baskets are open, consider throwing out the Easter grass, or replacing it with shredded paper, or even real grass!!

#5 – Pack away those Easter ornaments and toys:

Those wonderful basket stuffers such as plastic eggs and bunnies, or those tiny baby chickens, may be perfect decorations, but to your dog or cat, they may look like a fantastic little snack or something fun to play with.  The last thing you need at Easter is an emergency surgery to remove a plastic rabbit from your dog’s stomach!  Small toys can also be a choking hazard and should always be kept away from cats and dogs (and small children!). Be sure baskets are kept off the ground, or pets are kept in another room while baskets are being unwrapped.

#6 – Rabbits aren’t always the best gift at Easter:

Not so much a hazard, but well worth some food for thought.  While the thought of gifting a gorgeous fluffy bunny to your children as an Easter present, (perhaps in lieu or hoards of chocolate) might seem very appealing, it is important to take a moment to consider if a rabbit is right for your family and home environment.  Whilst appearing to be low maintenance, cheap, and perhaps a good choice for a first pet rather than a cat or dog, rabbits actually require quite detailed care and aren’t always the best choice for children, especially younger ones.  A rabbit’s ideal home environment is mainly indoors with some outside access, and they won’t necessarily get on with, and could feel very stressed by other animals, including other rabbits.  Proper diet and nutrition is also key to their longevity.  This doesn’t just include high quality hay and grass, but lots of green leafy vegetables as well, with pellets being kept to a minimum.  If you want to try and figure out if a rabbit might be right for you and how best to care for them, head over to The Rabbit Doctor’s website for more information: https://therabbitdoctors.com.au/blogs/information/information-is-a-bunny-the-right-pet-for-me

Make an Appointment

Call Our Friendly Staff

Is Your Pet’s Smile Healthy? Let’s Talk Dental Disease in Pets!

Did you know that dental disease is one of the most common health issues in cats and dogs? Over 80% of pets over the age of three have some form of dental disease, which can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. Why It Matters: Dental disease doesn't just...

Bravery Award June 2024 – Ruby the Cavoodle

Ruby the fourteen-year-old Cavoodle visited the Berwick clinic a couple of months ago for some vomiting and inappetence.  After some initial bloodwork was performed, it was clear due to her elevated hepatic markers that she was suffering from kidney disease and based...

Bravery Award May 2024 – Thomas the Pomeranian

Thomas, the twelve-year-old Pomeranian was a little too forward one morning and rushed to greet a passing dog who was walking down the footpath outside his house.  Unfortunately for Thomas, he didn’t realise quick enough that his new “friend” didn’t appreciate the...

Bravery Award April 2024 – Simba the Labrador

Simba, the nearly four-year-old golden Labrador nearly didn’t make it to Christmas last year after having to receive TWO exploratory laparotomies in the space of a week.  The first was to remove the sock he decided was a very tasty snack, the second was required as he...

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs: Understanding the Condition and Breeds at Risk

Hip dysplasia is a debilitating orthopaedic condition that can affect dogs of various breeds and sizes. Characterised by an abnormal formation of the hip joint, hip dysplasia can cause pain, lameness, and reduced mobility in affected dogs. While all dogs can...

Understanding PennHIP: A Revolutionary Approach to Evaluating Canine Hip Health

Among the numerous health issues that can affect dogs, hip dysplasia ranks among the most prevalent and debilitating. However, thanks to advancements in veterinary medicine, particularly the development of techniques like PennHIP, there's hope for better diagnosis and...

Beware the Fungus Among Us: Mushroom Toxicity in Pets

Mushrooms, with their diverse shapes and colours, can be an enchanting sight in nature. However, not all mushrooms are harmless, and some can pose serious risks to our furry companions. While many pet owners are vigilant about potential hazards in their homes and...

Bravery Award – March 2024 – Danger the Tonkinese

Danger, the two-year-old Tonkinese was hanging out in his front garden a few weeks ago when he took a shine to the neighbour’s cat and went next door for a visit.  Expecting him back shortly (as he wasn’t one to wander far), his owners became increasingly concerned...

Easter Pet Safety: Ensuring a Hoppy Holiday for Your Furry Friends

As Easter approaches, households around the world prepare for festivities filled with colourful eggs, delicious treats, and joyful celebrations. While Easter is a time for families to come together, it's essential to remember that some of the traditions associated...

Bravery Award – February 2024 – Rivva the Kelpie

Rivva, the four-year-old red kelpie presented to us this month, collapsed, pale, breathing rapidly and with a racing heart rate.  She was rushed through for immediate hospitalization and treatment with Dr. Tracy.  As investigations began and bloodwork was performed,...