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AVMA: Keep Pets Safe This Easter

SCHAUMBURG, Ill., March 10 /PRNewswire/ -- On March 23, the Easter Bunny will be hiding baskets of chocolate eggs and other assorted goodies. But, if you're one of the lucky recipients, make sure you or your children find these traditional gifts before your pets. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs and cats, and many other treats found in a traditional Easter basket are equally as dangerous.

Dr. Gregory S. Hammer, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, says that, following Easter, it's common to see pets, particularly dogs and cats, come into his Delaware veterinary clinic with the "holiday blues."

"It's an unfortunate side effect of many holidays and it's largely preventable," Hammer says. "People really need to know that many of the foods and candies that they enjoy so much over a holiday can make their pets very ill."

For example, many dogs will swallow pieces of candy whole, if they get the chance, resulting in a tragic, post-holiday bowel obstruction.

Hammer explains that Easter baskets also hold hidden dangers for cats. "Cats love the fake, decorative grass," Hammer says. "They often chew it and eat it, which can cause serious complications, even an obstruction. This can lead to a health crisis that requires surgery."

Also watch cats around Easter lilies; the entire plant is toxic to felines. If ingested, lilies can be very irritating to the digestive tract and can cause renal failure -- shutting down the kidneys -- which can be deadly.

Easter feasts should be reserved for human family members. "Don't let your animals get into your Easter dinner," Hammer says. "Rich meats are commonly served on Easter -- many times pork -- and these can be very unsettling for dogs and can sometimes lead to pancreatitis."

Pancreatitis is also known as "the garbage can disease," but it's no joke. It can be deadly, not to mention costly -- often requiring a week or more of in-clinic veterinary care for the animal.

Finally, Easter is not a good time to introduce new pets into a family. Placing chicks, puppies or bunnies into an Easter basket is a tradition that shouldn't continue, because they are often dropped off at the animal shelter in the days and weeks following the holiday.

For more pet health tips and information, visit

SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association
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