SPCA New Zealand

Be vigilant: SPCA’s reminder to pet owners this Easter Weekend

29 March 2021
Be vigilant: SPCA’s reminder to pet owners this Easter Weekend

Easter may be a long weekend of food and fun for many, but for our four-legged friends it can be a potentially dangerous time and SPCA is warning pet owners to be vigilant and keep their companions safe.

Many common treats and snacks that people enjoy over the Easter Weekend can actually cause serious harm to pets. It’s common knowledge that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but it is also toxic to cats and many other animals. In addition, there are also a number of other Easter goodies, including hot cross buns, that can be harmful to our furry friends.

SPCA Chief Executive Andrea Midgen says a little planning can ensure that everyone in the family, including companions, can be safe and enjoy the Easter weekend.

“It’s important to ignore your pet’s pleading eyes and think twice before leaving food in places that might be accessible to your animals – at the end of the day it will be in their best interest,” she says.

“Remember, if you think your pet has eaten something dangerous, we recommend you contact your local vet clinic immediately.”

Ten foods that are unsafe for pets:

  • Grapes and raisins can be deadly to cats and dogs, so keep hot cross buns out of reach! Symptoms include lethargy excessive thirst, vomiting and in serious cases, acute kidney failure and death.
  • Alcohol and caffeine are toxic for pets.
  • Avocados contain persin which causes symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhoea to cardiac arrest and death. Birds are particularly sensitive to persin, but avocado should not be fed to any pets.
  • Chocolate can cause seizures, vomiting and diarrhoea, and in some cases death.
  • Macadamia nuts can cause vomiting, weakness and tremors if eaten by dogs.
  • Onions and chives contain disulphides and sulfoxides, which can damage red blood cells and cause anaemia.
  • Peaches, plums, persimmons, and apple pips contain a substance that degrades to cyanide.
  • Xylitol – a common ingredient in sugarless treats and sugarless gum is dangerous to animals.
  • Don’t let your dog chew corn on the cob. Sweet corn cobs can cause blockages in the small intestine that may need to be removed surgically.
  • Pork crackling, sausages and fatty meats not only add extra calories but can lead to intense pain, vomiting and bloody diarrhoea due to pancreatitis.

Including Pets in Easter festivities

Easter can be a fun time for our pets and there are many ways owners can safely include their furry friends in upcoming Easter festivities.

Host an Easter egg hunt by hiding cat or dog treats around the house, and make sure chocolate treats aren’t left in places that might be easily accessible to animals. Remember to limit the number of treats to ensure to prevent overfeeding.

Daylight savings will end over the Easter Weekend too, so if Easter celebrations with canines involve a visit to the beach, make sure to check with local council on any changes to regulations.

Mealtimes can be made more interesting over the Easter weekend by treating furry friends to new foods or by introducing enrichment toys such as a Kong or other food puzzle feeders.

Safe foods for dogs include kumara, banana, pumpkin, carrot, cabbage, brown rice, quinoa, peas, broccoli, and cooked potatoes. We recommend feeding only in small amounts, and encourage pet owners to check with their vet if their canine suffers from a health condition such as diabetes.

Going away for the Easter weekend? What to do if pets can’t come along for the ride

Many pet owners will be taking holidays around New Zealand over the long weekend and while there are a growing number of pet-friendly options, it may not always be possible for animals to come too.

“Whether you choose a pet sitter, kennel, cattery, or dog daycare, you will need to assess each option before you hit the road,” Ms Midgen says.

Pet sitters are ideal for people who want to keep their companion at home while they are away, and for animals that are easily stressed by a change in environment, such as cats. For owners who don’t have many options for external boarding, such as birds, rabbits, fish, or guinea pigs, a pet sitter is a good option because the animal will be in their own environment and will have customised care.

If you choose to keep your dog at a kennel while you’re away, it is imperative that your dog is safe, well cared for, and is going to enjoy themselves. You want to be sure the kennels are managed in a manner consistent with your philosophy on dog training and care. We recommend asking kennels what their policies are for managing undesirable behaviours, what their staff to dog ratio is, what the staff qualifications are, and how frequently the dogs are exercised and what enrichment is provided.

When considering a cattery, owners will be wanting to book a secure, self-contained space for their feline, ensuring they would not have direct contact with other cats. Ideally, their cat would also be able to go outside in a safe, contained area.

“And don’t forget that vaccinations need to be up to date before putting your pet in a cattery/kennel. It’s important to check with your vet to ensure your pet is up to date as very few will accept animals that haven’t been vaccinated.”

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