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5 Easter Dangers to Keep Away From Pets

Easter may be joyous for you but it can be deadly for pets. Among this weekend’s common holiday traditions that are dangerous for dogs and cats:

Easter Lilies

Any part of this white, trumpet-shaped symbol of Easter and spring – leaves, flower or pollen – can be toxic to cats, says Food and Drug Administration (FDA) veterinarian Melanie McLean. Kidney failure can result with just a few mouthfuls, or even by licking pollen grains from their fur.

Vomiting usually occurs soon after consumption, which may gradually lessen over two to four hours, says McLean. Within 12 to 24 hours, cats may start to urinate frequently. Then, if kidney failure sets in, expect that the cat will stop urinating. Untreated, death could occur within a week.

Lilies of the Valley, meanwhile, can cause abnormal heart rhythms in cats, while Calla and Peace lilies irritate their mouth and esophagus. So even if you suspect your cat has consumed any part of a lily, seek emergency care. Dogs may have some gastrointestinal distress after eating lilies, but nothing that's considered life-threatening, adds McLean.


Any type if harmful to dogs and cats, but the darker and more bitter the variety, the more poisonous it is. Baker’s chocolate is riskiest – just 2 ounces can severely sicken a 50-pound dog – followed by dark, milk and white varieties.

Cardiac problems, seizures, coma or even death can occur if pets are not treated within four to six hours after ingesting chocolate (whose smell is especially enticing to dogs), as substances including theobromine and caffeine constrict arteries and increase heart rate. Look for symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, frequent urination, rapid breathing and heartbeat or stiffness.

Basket Goodies

It’s not just chocolate bunnies that can prompt a quick hop to the animal hospital. Easter “grass” (which looks like the real thing to pets) can become lodged in the stomach or intestines, requiring surgery. Foil wrappings can damage the esophagus and/or intestines. A dog can quickly damage a plastic egg, ingesting dagger-like slivers to tear his innards. Even real eggs for “hunts” can spoil quickly and shouldn’t be consumed by dogs. Ingested ribbon may also require surgery.

Holiday Dinner

Ham poses a double-whammy danger – it’s too high in fat and salt for both dogs and cats and could cause pancreatitis, a swelling and inflammation of the pancreas. Vomiting and diarrhea usually result (especially in dogs) but left untreated, pancreatitis can cause organ damage – including the brain.

Onions, garlic, chives and leeks are another no-no for dogs and cats, triggering anemia and causing red blood cells to rupture. Look for gastrointestinal problems, as well as lethargy, pale gums and rapid breathing and heart rate.


Dogs and cats can’t hold their liquor – literally. Beer, wine or spirits cause damage to the liver, kidneys and brain. Although cats tend to be teetotalers (except for the very curious), dogs are likely to drink whatever you give them – and that shouldn’t include booze.

Symptoms and severity depend on the amount consumed – and your pet’s weight – but vomiting, retching and/or hyperactivity may be the first signs of alcohol ingestion. (If you know a dog has consumed alcohol, you vet may recommend you induce vomiting, by mixing 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with a small amount of water.) Other symptoms indicating emergency treatment include drooling, weakness, slow or uncoordinated movements, panting, urination problems or collapse.

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