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Easter and Passover Dangers for Your Pets

As the Easter and Passover Holidays approach, many veterinarians like me think about Easter Monday. Yes, Monday. Although I do look forward to celebrating the Easter Holiday with family and friends, the Monday following a major holiday is usually quite busy- and Easter Monday is no exception.

I’ve written other blogs during the holidays about tips on how to keep your pets safe which you can find here. All of the tips I’ve included there cover most of what we need to remember, so check those blogs out. But Easter is a little different, since there are some additional items which are more common at Easter than the other holidays. There are also some traditional items surrounding the Seder dinner for Passover that need to be addressed, too.
Keep your pets safe during holidays in South Tampa FL

Easter Lilies

Easter Lilies are beautiful, and of course are named for the holiday- so they’re common in centerpieces that decorate the table for Easter dinner.  They’re great, unless you own a cat.  Lilies of any kind, including Easter Lilies are highly toxic to your cat. A bite of one petal, a lick of one stem or even the pollen of a lily can cause serious problems, including kidney failure and even death.

Signs of Lily poisoning in your cat:

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Increased water consumption
  • Decreased urination

If you suspect your cat has been exposed to any kind of lily, call your veterinarian- or an emergency veterinarian immediately.  If left untreated, renal failure can occur as quickly as 6 hours after exposure, so immediate treatment is required. As a veterinarian, I always suggest keeping these flowers out of your home if you own a cat.  Consider other flowers that can compliment your home for the holiday- your cat will thank you for it. If you’re celebrating at someone else’s home- and plan on taking an arrangement of flowers that contain lilies, check with your host/hostess to make sure there aren’t any cats in the home. If there are, find an arrangement that doesn’t have lilies.


Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is becoming much more common- and is found in lots of products, some of which may surprise you. Xylitol is much more toxic to your pet than chocolate, and can kill your pet within hours. So, if you’re using xylitol for any sweet treats- any time of year- keep it away from your pets. Better yet, don’t bring it in the house. For my full blog on Xylitol, and the products it is commonly found in- go here.

Easter Grass

That plastic green stuff that goes into your Easter baskets serves as a great decorative touch, but it’s terrible for your pets. Cats are often drawn to it- just like they love tinsel at Christmas time. Even a few little strands of it can lead to problems if it gets hung up in their digestive tract. If you’re stuffing your own Easter baskets this year, we suggest considering the recycled paper Easter grass as an alternative. Bottom line, keep your pets away from the Easter baskets- period.


I’m pretty confident you know about this one already, but out of an abundance of caution, we’ll discuss chocolate once again.  Since one of the most popular Easter basket treats is the giant milk chocolate bunny, it’s always a good reminder to keep these out of reach of our pets- both dogs and cats.

Remind the kids that your pets are not to be fed any sweets from their baskets. Dogs can be quick to steal candy from unsuspecting kids, or dive into an unattended basket looking for a free snack.

Chocolate contains two ingredients that are bad for our pets- theobromine and caffeine.  Our pets do not tolerate these in the same way that we do, so it’s important to keep them away from all types of chocolate.  As a general rule, the darker the chocolate, the more harm it can do to your pet, but no chocolate is good for them.  If you suspect your pet has gotten into chocolate, it is important to tell your veterinarian what type of chocolate, when the pet consumed it, how much it consumed and the weight of your pet.  All of these factors will give your veterinarian a better idea as to how to proceed.

Signs of chocolate toxicity:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Twitching/Tremors
  • Increased water intake
  • Increased urination
  • Excessive panting
  • Increased heart rate or arrhythmia

Although chocolate toxicity is not often fatal, it can be if the pet ate too much of the wrong type.  It is important to contact a veterinarian immediately if you think your dog has ingested chocolate.

The Seder Dinner

The traditional Seder dinner offered at the beginning of Passover usually contains a bowl of salt water. When consumed by pets in large quantities, saltwater can make your pet sick, or in some instances may be fatal. So if you’re planning a traditional Seder dinner, and preparing salt water in quantity, ensure your pets are kept away. For more information on saltwater poisoning, see my previous blog here.

Of course, lots of other potential hazards exist for your pets at Easter- just like the other major holidays.  Don’t forget to check out my earlier holiday blog as a good reminder.

The entire team wishes your families a safe and happy Easter or Passover celebration. We will be closed on Easter Sunday and open for normal business hours at 7:30 AM on Monday morning.