Dr. Kate Mezan
Experienced companion animal veterinarian; Stanford University B.A. & M.A., Massey University Veterinary School BVSc, Veterinary Medicine
The weather is warmer and the days are getting longer. With Easter just around the corner, remind yourself of some of the top dangers for dogs and cats this season and keep your furry best friends healthy while avoiding unnecessary trips to the animal emergency room!
When I used to work in the veterinary emergency room, everyone dreaded the major holidays. Not just because there’s no such thing as a “holiday off,” but because each holiday comes with its own spike in veterinary emergencies. So what issues do we see this time of year, and how can you avoid becoming another ER statistic during this Easter season?
Cats and Lily Toxicity
Did someone send you a beautiful Easter bouquet? Lovely! Put them in a vase and enjoy. Wait, do you also have a cat? Get those flowers out of the house fast!
Lilies are extremely toxic to our feline friends. Chewing on a leaf, nibbling a petal, or even taking a sip of water from the vase can potentially be lethal and requires immediate veterinary attention. This is a case where unfortunately you can’t just “wait and see” how your cat does. The most effective treatment starts BEFORE your cat is sick, so save yourself the panic and keep your kitties far away from these dangerous flowers.
As a side note, despite the misleading name, calla lilies are NOT true lilies. Although they can cause oral pain and gastrointestinal irritation, most cases are mild and not in the same category of worry as true lily ingestion.
Dogs and Chocolate Toxicity
While most people are aware that chocolate and dogs shouldn’t mix, the season of Easter baskets and chocolate eggs means more cases of doggie overindulgence. The consequences of chocolate ingestion vary widely, ranging from mild stomach upset, to pancreatitis, to seizuring and even (but fortunately, very rarely!) death. The danger depends on the amount of a caffeine-like substance called theobromine, with baking chocolate and dark chocolate containing the most, and milk chocolate containing much less.
So what to do if you find your dog licking its lips guiltily surrounded by candy wrappers? To determine potential risk, your vet will need to know:
- What kind of chocolate was consumed?
- Approximately how many ounces?
- What does your dog weigh?
With these facts in hand, your vet will be able to advise whether you can safely stay home and monitor, or if more intensive care is recommended.
Plastic Easter Grass
We will never understand why our pets eat some of the things that they do, but many dogs and especially cats find stringy, plastic grass irresistible. While small amounts may pass through uneventfully, larger amounts can become lodged in the gastrointestinal tract. Vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain or a drop in appetite are all warning signs of a dangerous obstruction that might require surgical intervention. So keep those baskets safely out of reach, or skip the plastic grass altogether!
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