It may not rival Thanksgiving or Halloween in terms of numbers of ER vet visits generated, but Easter still has its share of pet related dangers, especially when you have a dog or cat who is prone to the occasional counter surfing. If you have a pet who never does this, pat yourself on the back. Good work. Now for the rest of you, the best way to manage the weekend is to make a few simple substitutions so that if Fluffy does manage to grab a bite of something when you’re not looking, the worst you have to deal with is an upset tummy.
Flowers to Avoid: Lilies
Bright and happy lilies are synonymous with Easter. Used as a filler in almost every springtime bouquet out there, lilies are undeniably beautiful. Unfortunately, they are also undeniably toxic- in fact, one of the absolute worst plants a cat can eat. Every part is toxic- the flower, the leaves, the pollen- and it takes only a small amount to induce renal failure in a cat. It’s one of the rare instances in which I’m comfortable making a blanket statement: if you have a cat, you shouldn’t have lilies in the house.
Have these instead: Gerbera Daisies
There’s lots of options available to ensure spring has sprung without destroying your cat’s kidneys in the process. I, for one, love the bright and happily colored Gerbera daisies, which are in my own opinion more fun than the standard roses, and cheaper too. Win-win. Or, if you prefer, the Hoppy Easter basket has a dog made out of carnations- which if ingested can cause mild GI irritation, but is still far preferable to renal failure. For a comprehensive list of toxic plants, check out this list from the ASPCA.
Treat to avoid: Chocolate
Yes, yes, we all know chocolate is bad, and yet here we are, every year, watching our dogs inhale it when we forget to pick the basket off the hearth. Just remember, it’s a dose-dependent toxicity, so the toxic dosage depends on the type of chocolate, the weight of the pet, and the amount ingested. Here’s a great calculator from my friend Dr. Marie at Ask a Vet Question if you ever wanted to know just how much was too much, so if you run into the vet I knew who insisted a client should induce vomiting in a 60 pound standard poodle for eating 1 ounce of M & Ms, you can make an informed decision.
Have this instead: White Chocolate
Without the cocoa, you’re looking at negligible levels of theobromine, which is the chemical responsible for toxicity. Now I’m not advocating feeding your dog white chocolate- it’s still high in fat and can cause GI upset, but the overall risk is much lower should your pet manage to sneak some away. As an added bonus, well, it’s just not that great, so you’ll probably sneak less of it too.
Meat to avoid: Ham
Nothing says Easter like the traditional Easter ham. And nothing says pancreatitis like the fatty cuts of meat your dog will gladly Hoover up when you’re not looking. A 4 ounce serving of spiral ham has about 240 calories and 10 grams of fat.
Have this instead: Turkey
Leaner, lighter in calories, and just as good in soup as its heavier counterpart, turkey doesn’t just have to be for Thanksgiving. A similarly sized piece of skinless roast turkey has about 160 calories and 4 grams of fat. Just watch out for the bones, which can easily splinter in a dog’s stomach.
Filler to Avoid: Easter grass
That strange smelling plastic stuff may be the shiniest basket filler out there, but it’s oh so tempting for the average cat to want to eat. And there are few things less festive than spending the remainder of your spring break helping your cat recover from a linear foreign body surgery.
Use this instead: shredded paper
It’s more eco-friendly, smells better (seriously- have you smelled that Easter grass lately? It reeks like old tires!), and if ingested, should dissolve. What’s not to love?