Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Keep Pets Safe from the Easter Bunny!

Keep your pets safe from the Easter Bunny.

For millions of families, the celebration of Easter includes Easter baskets filled with sweet treats galore — chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks, sugary jelly beans and snack-size versions of nearly every candy product imaginable.

As parents, we often warn our children “Now don’t eat too much or you’ll make yourself sick.” At worst, a child who stuffs him or herself with chocolate may develop a stomachache.

But for our furry friends who get into the Easter goodies, “getting sick” may be the least of it. Many of the sweet treats mentioned above can actually be fatal to our pets.

Chocolate is one of the most deadly foods for pets (both cats and dog) Dark chocolate is worst, and white chocolate has the lowest risk. It’s not only high in fat (pets don’t need lots of fat any more than humans do), it contains two nervous system stimulants, caffeine and theobromine. The fat can make your pet vomit or cause diarrhea — unpleasant, but usually not fatal, but it’s the stimulants that sometimes cause death.

Theobromine is both a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic. A dog that ingests an overdose of chocolate may be fine at first, but will probably become excited and hyperactive within a few hours. It may pass large quantities of urine and become unusually thirsty. The theobromine will cause your pet’s heart rate to accelerate or beat irregularly, either of which can cause death.

But it’s not just chocolate that’s the problem. All sugary foods can cause dental problems, lead to obesity, and contribute to diabetes in pets, too. So be sure to keep your stash of chocolate securely out of your pet’s reach.

Children are notorious for sorting and trading candy, so make sure they don’t leave candy laying around (or candy wrappers, either, which can cause choking) Don’t forget how flexible and persistent a pet can be when it smells something yummy in a trash bin or garage sack, either.

If your think your pet may have ingested a harmful food , please call your vet immediately. If your vet is closed, call an emergency vet center. If you don’t have one of those in your area you can call one of the national animal poison control lines such as the Pet Poison Helpline: 1-800-213-6680.

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