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5 Easter traditions that can harm your pets

The safest treats you can give you pet at Easter are healthy treats, commercially prepared especially for pets, such as the one on the floor just beyond Frances the cat.
The safest treats you can give you pet at Easter are healthy treats, commercially prepared especially for pets, such as the one on the floor just beyond Frances the cat.

It’s only natural to celebrate special occasions with loved ones.

Even when loved ones include companion animals.

But what’s good for the human isn’t necessarily good for the canine – or the feline.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has listed five common items found in many households during Easter that are hazardous, and in some case, possibly fatal, to pets.

These items are chocolate, lilies, Easter grass, table food and herbicides.

Here’s why.


The Pet Poison Helpline said the darker and more bitter a chocolate is, the more toxic it will be to your pet.

That’s because chocolate contains methylxanthines, which are related to caffeine. This can cause abnormal heart rhythms, diarrhea, hyperactivity, vomiting and even death.

For that matter, any source of caffeine, including coffee, tea and energy drinks, is harmful to your pets.


True lilies (Lilium) or day lilies (Hemerocallis) are so toxic to cats that the ASPCA recommends cat owners don’t bring these plants in to their home (check floral bouquets for their presence), as they can cause acute kidney failure in cats.

The Poison Pet Helpline said lilies don’t affect dogs the same way. But if a dog does eat a large amount of this plant, it may experience diarrhea and vomiting.

Easter grass

The Poison Pet Hotline said anything stringy, such as this popular plastic grass that lines many Easter baskets, can anchor itself around a pet’s tongue or stomach, necessitating abdominal surgery to remove it.

ASPCA said it can also cause gastrointestinal obstruction, which can be life-threatening, and again will need surgery to correct.

Because Easter grass seems to end up everywhere (including inside your pet), consider keeping it out of your house it you have pets.

Table food

Humans love to share their food with their pets (even though pets aren’t as generous in return, thank goodness), but one person’s feast is often their pet’s poison.

Common foods that are toxic to both dogs and cats include onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins, the ASPCA said.

The Vets Now website said onions are especially toxic to dogs, and that includes raw onions, cooked onions, dehydrated onions and any table scraps, leftovers or take-out food that contains any form of onion.

Alcohol is toxic for both dogs and cats and even a little amount can be harmful.

More no-no’s for dogs: foods containing yeast (even bread), moldy foods, corn on the cob, bones and dairy foods, especially any of the blue cheeses, Vets Now said.

Dogs are sensitive to roquefortine C, which all blue cheeses contain.

Cats, too, have some specific foods to avoid: cheese and milk, fat trimmings, raw meat, raw eggs, raw fish and xylitol.

Still, even if a food isn’t considered toxic, it can still negatively affect your pet and possibly lead to pancreatitis.


While herbicides are typically not part of the Easter celebration, many people do begin cleaning up their yards around Easter.

Make sure applications are dry before letting your pet onto the grass.

Store herbicide containers where pets can’t reach them. Ingestion is possible if your pet chews or punctures the bottle.


The ASPCA pro page has a free poster listing the top five Easter toxins for pets, with details regarding the toxicity.

Download the poster at

If you believe your pet has ingested a toxic substance, call your vet immediately or contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661.

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