Being aware of potential hazards can help you and your dog have a Happy Easter.
Many families and friends gather this time of year to celebrate Easter and included in that guest list is, of course, our beloved dogs. While Easter is a fun and cherished holiday, as with any gathering where food and a large number of people are involved, it can present some dangers to our pups. I’ve listed some items to be cautious of this Easter because when it comes to dogs, preventing a situation is a thousand times better than having to deal with one.
With lots of guests coming over, it’s easy to get distracted or to have a guest accidentally leave a door open. Many dogs are opportunistic and won’t hesitate to bolt out an open door. If you have a lot of guests coming over, keep your dog crated or in a quiet room with food, toys, and bedding, as people are coming and going. Even with your dog secured in another room or in their crate, I would suggest keeping their collar along with their identification tags on.
The busiest room in any holiday celebration is the kitchen. Cooking an Easter feast is lots work and having a dog around your feet can be dangerous as you could trip over her and seriously injury both the dog and yourself. You could also drop something hazardous and before you can grab it, it’s ingested by a curious pup.
So much stress, injury and illness can be avoided if you keep your dog out of the kitchen during this busy time. I like to take my dogs on a long walk before I start to cook and then put them in their crates (or another room) to sleep while I prepare the meal.
Here are some common Easter foods that can be dangerous to dogs:
So much of Easter revolves around everyone’s favourite treat: chocolate. Most dog owners know that chocolate is toxic to dogs. But, it is important to make this reminder as chocolate is at the forefront of most Easter celebrations. The darker the chocolate, the more serious and the less dogs need to ingest to develop clinical signs, including vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, tremors and increased heart rate along with potential seizures.
White chocolate does not contain enough theobromine to cause toxicity, but it contains lots of sugar and fat so it can cause stomach upset, and if eaten in large quantities, serious illness.
Having an Easter egg hunt at your place requires extreme caution as a dog owner. I would suggest doing the hunt in an area of your home or property where your dog doesn’t go to avoid her eating any chocolate and/or foil wrapping. It’s also a good idea to keep a list and a map of where each and every treat was hidden. When the egg hunt is over, take a count to make sure everything that was hidden has been found.
While the Easter egg hunt is on, I recommend keeping your dog in a separate room or in her crate. Include her in the holiday by asking the Easter bunny to prepare her a basket with her favourite treats and a new toy so that she can join in the excitement safely.
While stuffing Easter baskets, I would go for paper “grass” as opposed to plastic. If a dog consumes plastic Easter grass, it can become lodged in the gastrointestinal tract and wreak havoc. Signs for concern include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased in appetite, lethargy and stomach pain.
Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday as a symbol of the end of Lent. Hot cross buns can contain dried fruit, such as currants and raisins which are toxic to dogs.
If your dog eats even a small quantity of these dried fruits, they can potentially suffer severe kidney failure.
If your dog has ingested these dried fruits, contact your veterinarian immediately as some dogs have ingested large quantities and felt no effects, however, others – including large breeds - have experienced life threatening symptoms after eating just a few raisins so it is definitely not worth the gamble.
Any foods that are sweetened with an artificial sweetener called xylitol are dangerous to dogs. Xylitol can result in a rapid drop in blood sugar in dogs along with liver damage. Xylitol can be found in sugar-free gums, mints, and dental products but is also commonly used in sugar-free or low-sugar baked goods and some peanut butters. Even quantities that appear to be very small have the potential to quickly become life-threatening to dogs. Be sure to always check the label.
Fatty foods such as butter, bacon, meat drippings, gravies and other meat scraps may seem harmless, but in large quantities, these foods have the potential to pose very real threats of pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that can result in clinical signs of vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and abdominal pain. Symptoms may not be immediate and can occur up to 4 days after exposure.
Spring Flowers and Bulbs
Easter is the perfect time of year to give a gift of spring flowers and bulbs, but make sure you keep them well out of reach of your dog – particularly if they are known to dig.
Daffodils are a popular spring flower that are poisonous to dogs if they eat the bulbs or flowers. Tulips can irritate your dog’s mouth and gastrointestinal tract. Normally dogs will experience drooling and diarrhea, but heart problems and difficulty breathing are also signs of tulip or daffodil poisoning.
Garbage bins should always be out of your dog’s reach and fitted with tight lids. Easter is no exception as the majority of dogs get into food by nosing through the trash. Scraps such as meat-soaked strings from the lamb and bones can result in an obstruction or gastrointestinal injury that have the potential to require surgery. To minimize the risk of my dogs getting into the trash, I recommend keeping a small garbage bag in the sink and then immediately throw it out with the trash in an area where dogs can’t access (garage, back of a truck or down a garbage chute).
There’s so much to celebrate at Easter. With a little planning and knowledge, you can enjoy this holiday safely with your best four-legged friend. Happy Easter!
* Please note that I am not a veterinarian nor am I a veterinary technician. I’m an experienced dog owner and Canadian Kennel Club member. These are my tips for a safer Easter celebration with your dog. If you believe your dog has been poisoned or eaten something she shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic immediately. Quick action can save lives.