SPCA New Zealand

Keeping pets safe this Easter weekend

08 April 2019
Keeping pets safe this Easter weekend

As we prepare for an Easter weekend full of family, friends, and fun, remember to keep an eye on your furry friends around food. Many common treats and snacks that people enjoy over the holidays can cause serious harm to your pets.

Ignoring your pets’ pleading faces is actually in their best interest. Dogs and cats digest and metabolise food differently to humans, so what might be perfectly fine for us can be poisonous to them. Pets can find feasts in handbags, off tables, and by rummaging through the rubbish, finding food that can make them sick.

Remember: if you think your pet has eaten something dangerous you should immediately call your local vet clinic.

Chocolate treats

Keep chocolate away from dogs at all times, and carefully monitor where chocolate is hidden when setting up an Easter egg hunt. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, chemicals that are toxic to dogs when ingested in large quantities. A good rule of thumb is the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it will be for a dog. Keep pets away from treats wrapped in tin foil as there is a chance it can cause an intestinal obstruction or bleeding.

Ten foods 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.
  • Sweet-corn cobs can cause blockages in the small intestine that may need to be removed surgically. Don’t let your dog chew on the cob.
  • Pork crackling, sausages and fatty meats not only add extra calories but can lead to intense pain, vomiting and bloody diarrhoea due to pancreatitis.

To include your dog in Easter festivities, treat them to appropriate new foods. Safe foods for dogs include kumara, banana, pumpkin, carrot, cabbage, brown rice, quinoa, peas, broccoli, or cooked potatoes – just remember to give only in small amounts to avoid a tummy upset and check with your vet before feeding if your dog suffers from a health condition such as diabetes. You could also simply make their mealtime more fun, by giving them their normal daily meals in a Kong or puzzle feeder.

Karaka tree berries

Keep your dog away from New Zealand’s native karaka tree berries. The berries are an important food source for Kereru, however, they are fatal to dogs. Through January to April the berries ripen, turn orange and fall off the trees. Berry kernels remain toxic for a long time, so dogs can be poisoned by eating even a previous year’s fruit. The trees themselves are quite distinct and easy to spot; they have thick dark leaves and can grow up to 15 metres with the berries turning a bright orange colour during fruiting season.

“Most people know that chocolate is dangerous for dogs, but there is actually an array of popular food ingredients that your pet’s bodies are simply not designed to eat,” says SPCA’s CEO, Andrea Midgen.

“Pets can get into food and as they are inquisitive by nature will search out unusual scents, so owners should be extra vigilant this long weekend when at home and when away. If you think your dog has ingested something they shouldn’t have, seek immediate veterinary treatment.”

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