Spring is in the air! by Dr. Daniella Shmuel

With Easter and spring festivities jut around the corner, it’s time to show our pets some extra love by keeping them safe from seasonal hazards. Here are a few common toxins that are particularly seen this time of year.

Chocolate: Most of us already know how unsafe chocolate is for our pets, but it’s important to educate our children as well. Please make sure to tell your kids that sharing their chocolate treats could make them very ill. Chocolate is toxic for both dogs and cats. The toxic components in chocolate are theobromine and caffeine, and the level of toxicity is based on the type and quantity of chocolate ingested.  It stimulates the nervous system and can cause symptoms of restlessness, hyperactivity, excessive panting and muscle twitching. The high fat content of chocolate can also cause symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea which may lead to pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

Easter Lilies: Cat owners please beware! We need to be especially cautious with these flowers because as beautiful and fragrant as they are, they are also very poisonous. Cats may suffer from kidney failure after ingesting even small amounts of this plant. The most toxic component is the flower itself, but all parts of this plant are toxic. The gastrointestinal and nervous systems may also be affected when ingested. Other types of Lilies that are also commonly used for colorful bouquet arrangements are Tiger Lilies, Day lilies, Asiatic and Stargazer lilies, which are all poisonous as well. If your cat is seen consuming any part of a lily, bring your pet (and the plant) immediately to a veterinarian for medical care.

Easter Baskets:  Easter grass is the fake grass that is often found in Easter baskets. Our pets love to play and chew on string-like objects but the plastic in Easter grass is non-digestible and once ingested, the grass, can cause choking or become lodged in the stomach or intestines and cause an obstruction.  The first signs witnessed may be the piece of material being visible from the mouth or anus, vomiting or straining to defecate, decreased appetite and/or a painful abdomen. Trying to pull out visible grass or string is never recommended, as this can cause more damage especially if the piece is long and wrapped inside the intestines.

Xylitol: It is an artificial sweetener found in many sugar-free products such as gum, candy, and baked goods. Xylitol can be toxic to dogs and cats.  Within 30 minutes of ingestion, it can cause a dramatic drop in blood sugar.  Your pet may begin vomiting, become lethargic and have difficulty standing or walking.

Don’t forget that our pets are curious little creatures! Please remember to keep these seasonal hazards away from your pets’ reach at all times. If your pet has ingested any of these products, please contact our Brampton veterinary team immediately.  Enjoy the holiday season and stay safe!