Easter Holiday Hazards

With travel, visits and family events this upcoming holiday weekend, we at Animal Health Partners would like to remind you of some of the potential holiday hazards to avoid with your pet.


A perennial favorite for Easter decoration, Lilium longiflorum and many other lilies should not be brought into your home if you have cats.  All parts of these plants are toxic (leaves, pollen, flowers, stems) when ingested and the toxic dose is small. Symptoms may not be present initially or may be limited to mild vomiting or diarrhea but then progress to kidney failure within days.  Treatment after the kidney disease is detected is usually not successful and cats often die from this. If you suspect or know that your cat has encountered this plant seek veterinary attention immediately.


Chocolate is abundantly available around Easter and is not only a tasty treat for you but can be a dangerous temptation for your pets. All types of chocolate can cause clinical signs but the higher the percentage of cocoa, the worse the symptoms can be. Clinical signs can occur within 1-4 hours of ingestion and are dependent on the amount of chocolate consumed. Symptoms can include restlessness, excitability, vomiting, diarrhea, irregular or abnormal heart rhythms, tremors and seizures. If your pet has ingested chocolate, veterinary attention is required. Treatment generally includes induction of vomiting, intravenous fluid therapy and management of abnormal heart rhythms.

Plastic grass

Plastic grass is not toxic on its own however this decoration is intriguing to most pets. If it is ingested, it can cause injury to the internal organs. The plastic grass can act as a foreign object causing the intestines to twist and bunch which can ultimately lead to obstruction of the intestinal tract. Symptoms may take time after initial ingestion and can present as vomiting, inappetence, lethargy and abdominal pain. Please seek veterinary attention if you suspect your pet has ingested this material and is demonstrating symptoms.   Further diagnostics (such as ultrasound) and surgery may be required.


Raisins are in many different Easter treats such as hot-crossed buns. Although the mechanism and dose is not known, raisins can cause acute damage to the kidneys and lead to kidney failure. Symptoms may not be seen initially and can include lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. These clinical signs can progress to kidney failure within days of ingestion. Rapid treatment by inducing vomiting is required.  In addition, treatment with intravenous fluids may be needed for a successful outcome. Treatment after the onset of kidney failure is not always successful. Please seek veterinary attention if your pet ingests grapes or raisins.

Plastic eggs

Hard plastic eggs are great for storing hidden treats but our canine companions are great at sniffing them out. These eggs are the perfect size and smooth texture to get swallowed. Due to their diameter, they can easily get stuck in an animal’s throat.  This can be a life threatening emergency requiring anesthesia and endoscopy to remove the foreign material. If this material is left in the esophagus, it can cause ulcerations and strictures. If the plastic egg managed to pass into the stomach, it will require removal to ensure that it does not cause intestinal obstruction.

Food hazards (bones, ham and lamb)

With lots of food around, there is the temptation to give your pet treats they wouldn’t normally get. Foods with a high fat content can predispose your pet to develop vomiting, diarrhea or even pancreatitis. Inflammation of the pancreas can range in severity and clinical signs can include lethargy, inappetence, vomiting and abdominal pain. Large bones may sound like an ideal treat for your canine companion but they pose many hazards such as broken teeth, intestinal obstruction and constipation. In the case of intestinal obstruction, surgery will likely be required. In addition, raw bones can carry infectious agents such as Salmonella and E.Coli which can subsequently be passed to humans. If your dog gets into bones, monitor for vomiting, diarrhea, refusal to eat and abdominal pain.

Artificial sugar – Xylitol

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener which is used in many foods as a substitute for sugar. This can be a serious problem for dogs but not necessarily for cats. Consumption of xylitol can cause low blood sugar and, at high doses, liver damage. Signs of low blood sugar can occur within 30 minutes of ingestion and include weakness, tremors, shaking and in severe cases, seizures. Signs of liver disease can take up to three days after ingestion to become apparent. Clinical signs include jaundice, lethargy, vomiting and inappetence. It is recommended that any dog that has knowingly consumed products containing xylitol be seen by a veterinarian for treatment with fluids, blood sugar monitoring and liver protectants.

We are here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week should your pet require emergency care.