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Holiday dangers: Keeping your pets safe on Easter weekend

During holiday celebrations, pets face unfamiliar dangers due to changes in their environment, the introduction of hazardous decorations and plants, and the presence of foods that may be toxic to them. Just ahead of the holiday, ManyPets is sharing some useful tips for keeping pets safe around common Easter treats. 

Dr. Jennifer Coates is a writer, editor, and consultant for ManyPets with experience in veterinary medicine and animal welfare. She has answered the most popular questions for cat and dog owners in the United States.

According to Dr. Coates, the main hazards to pets this weekend include eating chocolate, spring flowers, and candy wrappers – which can all result in serious illness. 

Is chocolate toxic to dogs and cats, and how much will affect them?

“Chocolate can be very dangerous, particularly to dogs, since they’re more likely to eat a lot of it. Determining how much chocolate is unsafe depends on the pet’s size and the type of chocolate they eat. Dark and unsweetened chocolate contains higher concentrations of toxic methylxanthines (theobromine and caffeine) than milk chocolate,” said Dr. Coates.

What should pet owners do if their dog or cat eats chocolate?

If your dog or cat has eaten chocolate, a chocolate toxicity calculator can help you determine how dangerous the situation might be. Potential problems can include hyperactivity, diarrhea, vomiting, a fast heart rate, abnormal heart rhythms, seizures, pancreatitis, and even death. It’s always safest to talk to a veterinarian if you have any concerns about your pet’s well-being.”

What flowers or plants are toxic to pets?

“Many flowers and plants can be toxic to pets (the ASPCA maintains a great list), but Easter lilies are a big concern this time of year. Easter lilies are incredibly toxic to cats and can quickly lead to kidney failure and death. All parts of the plant are toxic, including the leaves, flowers, pollen, and even the water inside the vase.”

Any other hazards pet owners need to be aware of over the Easter period?

“Almost any type of Easter treat can pose a risk to pets,” said Dr. Coates. “For example, candy wrappers can lead to obstructions if they are swallowed. Xylitol, a sugar substitute, is very dangerous to dogs because it can lead to potentially fatal low blood sugar levels and liver damage. Make sure to keep Easter treats away from pets.”

More about holiday dangers to pets 

Here are some specific dangers that pet owners should be aware of during various holidays:

Toxic foods

Holidays often involve feasting on foods that are toxic to pets. Chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, and foods containing the sweetener xylitol are particularly harmful and can lead to serious health issues or even death. Even foods that aren’t toxic can cause gastrointestinal upset or pancreatitis due to their high fat content.


Many holiday decorations pose risks to pets. Ornaments can be swallowed, causing intestinal blockage or even toxicity. Tinsel and ribbons, if ingested, can lead to severe gastrointestinal issues that might require surgery. Lights and electrical cords offer a risk of electrical shock if chewed.


Common holiday plants like poinsettias, mistletoe, holly, and Christmas cactus are toxic to pets and can cause various symptoms from mild irritation to severe gastrointestinal or cardiovascular problems.

Stress and anxiety

The increased activity, noise, and presence of strangers during holiday celebrations can be stressful and anxiety-inducing for pets, leading to behavior problems or escape attempts.

Cold weather

For holidays occurring during colder months, pets can be at risk of cold-related issues such as hypothermia or frostbite, especially if they’re not accustomed to the cold or are left outside for too long.

Fireworks and noise

Holidays like the Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve that traditionally involve fireworks or loud celebrations can be terrifying for pets, leading to anxiety, stress, or even escape attempts as they try to flee from the noise.

Lost pets

With guests entering and leaving, pets have more opportunities to slip out unnoticed. Holidays see an increase in lost pet reports, so it’s crucial to ensure pets are properly identified with tags and microchips.

To mitigate these risks, pet owners should:

  • Keep harmful foods, plants, and decorations out of pets’ reach.
  • Create a quiet, comfortable retreat where pets can escape the hustle and bustle.
  • Monitor pets closely around potential hazards and when guests are present.
  • Keep pets indoors and in a safe, escape-proof area during fireworks or loud celebrations.
  • Ensure pets have proper identification in case they get lost.

Being proactive and vigilant can help ensure that holiday celebrations are safe and enjoyable for both pets and their owners.


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