Easter and our pets…

Each year at Easter time, vets feel the morale obligation to remind owners (and themselves!) of the potential hazards which can easily sit around the house falling prey to wandering noses of cats and dogs.

It is commonplace to give each other, especially children, chocolate Easter eggs. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is toxic to dogs and cats. Typically, the darker the chocolate the more theobromine it contains but even some white chocolates contain this substance. A small amount of chocolate for a child can equate to a large and even fatal dose for a dog so we encourage owners to be vigilant about where they leave chocolate and ensure it is inaccessible to their pets.

Hot cross buns are another Easter indulgence. However, raisins sultanas, currants and grapes are deadly to dogs and cats, injuring the kidneys. So do not be tempted to share your treat with your pet.

Easter signifies that Spring is here and with it new life!

Daffodil flowers, especially the bulbs, are poisonous to dogs. At best, the intestines will be damaged. At worse, seizures and even death can ensue. As a rule of thumb, if your pet has eaten a flower bulb of any kind get in contact with us so we can advise you what to do next. Azaleas, Hyacinths, buttercups, bluebells, foxgloves, rhubarb… the list of poisonous plants go on.

Since a child, Easter has conjured images of baby rabbits and baby chicks. An adolescence of Friends episodes with Joey and the baby chick added to this. And so, subconsciously, are we more inclined to purchase a small furry animal at this time of year? Advertising moguls I’m sure would say yes. So, I feel the obligation again to discourage these thoughts in owners and parents without proper research into what it takes to administer the best care of these individuals. And to consider, carefully, if our time-short lives can accommodate them. Some small mammals prefer to live in groups rather than alone. Some should consume a diet which is 80-90% grass or hay and create burrows and dens underground as part of their natural behaviour. Some require lots and lots of attention to overcome their natural fear/prey instinct to allow happy handling without biting. In addition, their veterinary care may be specialised in some instances and can therefore be as or costlier than a dog or cat.

But having said all that, the imagery of baby chicks also insights consideration of the welfare and husbandry of our massive egg-producing industry in the U.K. This subconscious advertising can only be a good thing, in my mind.  The Vegan movement is a current trend. Whilst I realise it is not for everyone, myself included, it has been important to raise awareness of the food we eat, to ensure these animals, who truly experience pain, emotions and social relationships (it’s a scientific fact!), are kept in a way which allows the caring individual to sleep at night, conscience clear.

My final Easter thought is one of treats. The pet shops are full of colourful goodies to treat your pet at Easter time. Treating your pet is essential, in my eyes, as are all acts of love. However, convenience treats can be as detrimental to our pet’s health as it is to ours. So, instead of a fatty, coloured, commercial treat, consider a treat which enriches and benefits their body. Carrots or broccoli stalks are a healthy treat. Or an extra walk in a new location provides lots of novel smells to sniff. An interactive toy which uses their brains to dispense their evening meals or perhaps an agility or behaviour class are all fantastic options.

So, this year, when Spring brings new life, let it bring new thoughts with it too.

Article by Rachel Phillips  (Newmarket branch)