Beware of Easter hazards for your pets

By DR. FRED SELF / Veterinarian

This is the time of year when we start planning for Easter. For some of us, that means looking for chocolate eggs. For others, it means the time for planting a garden is here. And for some, this time is a reminder of religious beliefs.

Regardless of what Easter means to you, there are some important things to remember for your pets, whether they are large, white rabbits or simple donkeys.

Some of the most common items we have around this time of year can cause serious problems for our pets.

It is common for dogs and cats to eat the fake green grass found in Easter baskets. Even though the grass is not toxic, it can cause a blockage in the stomach or intestines.

The chocolate eggs and rabbits we buy, while tasty, can be toxic to pets, as well. Eating enough chocolate can be life threatening to our dogs and cats. An additional threat is the wrapping paper around the candies. If enough is eaten, it can block the stomach and intestines as well.

Also common this time of year is the Easter lily. This is one of several lilies that are toxic to cats. It is known to cause acute kidney disease that can lead to death. If you plan to buy or give lilies, be sure cats are not likely to be exposed to them. If you see your cat eating a lily, take him or her to your veterinarian immediately!

Another common event around Easter is the purchase of baby chicks or rabbits. While owning chickens can be rewarding, they require space and feed that many people do not have.

Rabbits also can make good pets, however, taking care of them can be a challenge. Often these cute little live gifts are turned over to rescue groups who are then faced with finding them good homes.

In the end, it is best to avoid giving these animals as pets unless the new owner has had experience with them.

And under no circumstance is it a good idea to try and use dye to color one of these pets.

I hope you all have a safe and happy Easter!

Dr. Fred Self is a veterinarian at Shelbiana Animal Clinic in Columbiana, along with Dr. Charles Thornburg. You can reach the clinic at 669-7717.