6 things to watch with pets this Easter

easter pets

Photo: Cristian Newman

As a vet hospital, we know the joy the holidays can bring to a family and their pets. Easter is a great time for getting the family together. It’s also a good time for mini vacations and enjoying each other’s company.

Easter for pets however can come with some risks. This is especially true of food stuffs not usually found in the home in such abundance.

If you want your family to enjoy the long weekend and have great fun these holidays, please be mindful of your family pets and the following items


As a vet hospital, we often see chocolate poisoning over holiday seasons.

We may love the chocolate eggs and other treats of Easter, but they are highly toxic to dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is.

Dogs can become hyperactive, suffer diarrhoea, vomiting, high heart rates and even seizures from ingesting chocolate. Pancreatitis may also result, a painful and uncomfortable swelling of the pancreas that may cause diarrhoea, vomiting, high temperatures, a loss of appetite, a painful abdomen and depression.

From white chocolate through to the darkest bitter cocoa laden mix, chocolate is potentially life threatening to your dog. So it’s important to act fast and visit your vet immediately if you suspect your dog has eaten any.

Cats may not taste on the sweet spectrum, but curious kitties have also found themselves on the wrong side of chocolate. Cats also suffer similar symptoms to dogs such as vomiting, diarrhoea, high heart rates, seizures and increased reflex responses. Your cat may also show signs of muscle rigidity, breathing too fast and internal problems such as a drop in blood pressure or cardiac failure.

Again, fast action is necessary to ensure you cat is OK. Bring them to the vet hospital as soon as you notice these signs for blood testing, treatment and observation.

Some pets may require inducement to throw up the chocolate plus fluids. Others may find they have far more serious issues to contend with. The speed in which you seek vet advice and treatment can influence the outcomes.

Tin foil and other decorations

While we may love the beautiful shiny decoration of foil coverings and beautifully turned out baskets, they can pose significant risk to curious pets.

Tin foil is a harsh substance that can get stuck in the throat, stomach and bowel of your pet if eaten. Plastic grasses, decorative wraps and excess shredded paper can all be a huge lure for pets looking to play in soft, downy material.  They can also easily become eaten and stuck in parts of your pet.

Another temptation are small plastic toys and fluffy soft toys are designed to decorate Easter baskets, serve as part of a display or as the gifts themselves.  Your pet may see these items and not distinguish them for toys for you as opposed to them.

Unfortunately, the majority of the decorative and kids toys and decorations on the market are not designed for the gnawing teeth and strong jaws of your pet. They may also be made in materials that are not suitable for tasting. This could result in choking hazards, broken teeth, cuts to the gums, parts or whole toys being lodged in the stomach area. Plus they run the risk of ingesting harmful chemicals from plastics, paints and perfumes.

Avoid the trip to the vet hospital and sifting through pet leavings, inducing vomiting and potential surgery by keeping these items well out of reach.

Food colouring

Food colouring is problematic when dealt with in a pet context. Many food colouring products are not suitable for rates, mice and guinea pigs and may be carcinogenic and produce tumours.

These same food colouring products may also increase the risk in other pets.

Adding colouring to pet food is best avoided. Always ensure you use natural food colouring with any kind of foods or rely on the colours within food itself to make a colourful statement.

Artificial sweeteners

The common artificial sweeteners found in candies and lollies can contain Xylitol. It’s often found in sugar free sweets and chewing gum. As your vet hospital, we’ve mentioned Xylitol previously as it can also be found in common items such as peanut butter. It’s a definite additive to avoid if you want to maintain your pet’s health.

Xylitol increases insulin in a pet’s blood stream, causing spikes and extreme drops in the blood sugar level. This can lead to weakness and limp bodies, general lethargy, vomiting and an ill pet with only the smallest amount. More serious complications include trouble breathing and liver and kidney damage and failure.

The best way to avoid problems with Xylitol is to not bring it into the house at all. Check ingredients and bypass products that have this sweetener in it.

If you suspect your pet has eaten sweets, chewing gum and lollies containing the sweetener, bring them to a vet hospital immediately.


It’s a long weekend, so the parents like to bring the family together and have the odd beer, wine or cider. Just make sure that your pets aren’t attracted to the alcohol and decide to indulge as well.

Drunk pets lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, gagging, disorientation, dehydration and the inability to move well. The act of drinking can also spike their blood sugar and make your pet quite ill. Smaller dogs and cats have even been known to die through slowed breathing and blood sugar issues.

So please, keep the Easter cheer away from the pets and keep it strictly for the parents so we don’t need to see you at our vet hospital!

If you happen to be going away

The long weekend is also a time to travel with and without the family pet in tow. We suggest you take a look at some articles such as how to choose the right boarding kennel, travelling safely with your dog and what to do when you reach a new holiday destination with your family pet.

Our vet hospital will be closed for the public holidays (Easter and Anzac Day) and wish everyone a safe and happy Easter.


About the Author
Owner and Vet Alex Brittan, Vet Katie Syms and the team of Fox Valley Animal Hospital pride themselves on quality service. Fox Valley Animal Hospital is the one you choose for your family pet when the care your animal receives really matters.