Happy Easter or is it for your pets?

     We are three days into the Easter break today in Australia. It is a major holiday season that either rivals or comes in a close second to Christmas depending on your perspective. It is a time for family, friends, eating too much chocolate, drinking too much, travelling and socializing. The roads are clogged, the shops are mobbed and the police are out in full force trying to stop people from drinking and driving. I have been through four random breath test sites in the last two days and expect to be pulled over again this afternoon. But I don’t mind how many police cars are out patrolling as all the days of the Easter break see me driving around the valley looking after pets and houses for clients who are away and I like to know that drunk drivers are not driving on Australia’s most dangerous highway.

    I was driving back home after my morning round and started to think about what Easter means for our pets. In my home the cats and dogs love it as I don’t need to rush off to the training centre early in the morning and stay there all day. I get to go out for a few hours then come home before going out to do my afternoon run. This means that the cats get far more time to find a comfy spot on my lap or even better snuggled up as I have a midday snooze. The dogs like the fact that I am far more relaxed and less driven to do what just has to get done. 

    But what about those pets who are left at home these holidays? Sadly Australia is not a place where we are encouraged to take our pets away or out with us. It is slowly changing thankfully. A few more holiday places are now accepting pets of responsible owners and a number of outside cafes are allowing you to sit and have a meal with your pet. Responsible owners going away, book either home vacation care services or kennels in advance, ensuring that their pets will be looked after. Sadly some don’t and will just ignore the needs of their pets, leaving out some food or hoping that the kid next door will remember that they were asked to feed their neighbours pet. Even worse some shelters report that owners dump pets that are inconvenient to own at holiday times.

  Many people do not go away but spend time at home socializing or just having family time. Easter egg hunts and family BBQ’s. These events are great fun but increase the risks for our pets, especially dogs.

          Chocolate contains Theobromine, a compound that is a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic. The signs of sickness may not be seen for several hours, with death following within twenty-four hours. Cocoa powder and cooking chocolate are the most toxic forms. Semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate are the next most dangerous forms, with milk chocolate being the least dangerous, the smaller the dog, the less it needs to eat. So making sure all the eggs are found immediately in the Easter egg hunt and that the kids keep their chocolate eggs out of reach of canine snouts.  This doesn’t apply to adults of course as we only have one very small Easter egg as a treat. Yeah sure, if you believe that then you don’t really know Louise, the chocoholic who prefers chocolate to normal food. But as a parent I am used to hiding my Easter eggs.

    Then there are the BBQ’s, especially this year as Easter, the school holidays and ANZAC day are all together in one large break. There are many foods that we enjoy that are hazardous to our pets.

      Onions and garlic cause sickness in dogs, cats and also livestock. Onions and garlic contain the toxic ingredient thiosulphate. Onions are more of a danger than garlic. Pets affected by onion toxicity will develop haemolytic anaemia, where the pet’s red blood cells burst. Initially pets affected by onion poisoning show gastroenteritis with vomiting and diarrhoea then progress to showing no interest in food and then become dull and weak. The poisoning occurs a few days after the pet has eaten the onion. All forms of onion can be a problem including dehydrated onions, raw onions, cooked onions and table scraps containing cooked onions and/or garlic. Left over pizza, Chinese dishes and commercial baby food containing onion, sometimes fed as a supplement to young pets, can cause illness. Onion poisoning can occur with a single ingestion of large quantities or with repeated meals containing small amounts of onion.

       Macadamia nuts: The toxic compound is unknown but the affect of macadamia nuts is to cause loco motor difficulties. Dogs develop a tremor of the skeletal muscles, and weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters. Affected dogs are often unable to rise and are distressed, usually panting. Some affected dogs have swollen limbs and show pain when the limbs are manipulated.  Dogs have been affected by eating as few as six macadamia kernels (nuts without the shell) while others had eaten approximately forty kernels. Some dogs had also been given macadamia butter. Luckily, the muscle weakness, while painful, seems to be of short duration and most dogs recover.

       Avocado (all parts): The toxic ingredient in avocado is called persin (toxic amount unknown). Symptoms include difficulty breathing, abdominal enlargement and abnormal fluid accumulations in the chest, abdomen and sac around the heart. However, living in an avocardo growing region, I do know of dogs who snack daily on avocardo with no ill effects.

      Pear pips, the kernels of plums, peaches and apricots, apple core pips, cherry pips: contain cyanogenic glycosides resulting in cyanide poisoning. These are a particular hazard to alpacas. The larger pips can also get lodged in the intestine of a dog, causing serious bowel blockage.

     Potatoes: if the skin has turned green. Rhubarb leaves Mouldy/spoiled foods: keep garbage lid firmly on.   Alcohol (Yeast dough) Coffee grounds, beans & tea (caffeine). Hops: used in home brewing. Tomato leaves & stems (green parts). Broccoli: in large amounts, rasins and grapes, cigarettes, tobacco, cigars. Xylitol: sweetener often found in sugar-free gum

     Cooked bones can splinter and cause gut perforation, as well as blockages in the intestine, tooth fractures, and cooked chop bones can get stuck across the roof of the mouth. Corn cobs are a common cause of intestinal blockage requiring surgical removal. Rich Fatty Food: rich fatty foods can cause pancreatitis which can be life threatening.

   So as you can see there are many hazards that our canine companions living with us can encounter. Is it any wonder their favourite occupation is sleeping? Prevention of course is better than cure, especially when you consider what the vet will charge for emergency surgery on a public holiday.

  Have a safe and happy Easter everyone. Take the break to give yourself time to ” hug the dog, kiss the cat and tell your goldfish you love them”  A great energetic walk along the beach, throw of the ball or stick will do wonders for all the calories consumed in chocolate, not to mention how much your dog will love you for it.


Posted on April 24, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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