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Posted on Sat, Mar 30, 2013 : 2 p.m.

Easter can be a happy and safe holiday for humans and pets alike by keeping a few things in mind

By Lorrie Shaw


Lorrie Shaw | Contributor

When it comes to holidays, Easter offers a bit of all things that we really love to indulge in: a little time off from work, brighter weather, more time with family and friends — and food!

Pets are a part of the equation for many families, and, although having more people around the house can seem like a boon for pets, the extra hustle and bustle, upset routine and the table scraps that inevitably find their way to a pet's tummy can prove to be a bit more than some pets can handle.

Pet health emergencies and behavioral problems tend to increase during the holiday. With some mindfulness, the next few days can be more enjoyable and safe for everyone, whether they are on two feet or four.

Stay on track

Just like most of us, pets thrive on routine. There is something to be said for maintaining your pets' regular meal and exercise schedule. In doing so, you’ll encourage good behavior and keep them feeling good.

We all need to be alone, sometimes

When company comes, it’s a lot of fun, but as any host knows, having house guests for any length of time can be a bit stressful; it’s natural. Times like this can be difficult for any pet, too.

Minimizing any tension is simple. Provide your four-legged friends with a quiet, out-of-the-way room during gatherings. Even if your pets enjoy socializing with people, having a space where they can chill out without being bothered is a must. I particularly like the idea of providing a crate for dogs in that quiet space, with a comfy dog bed in it to provide an extra sense of security.

Stay hydrated

Make sure your pet always has fresh water. With more people in the house, invariably someone is bound to bump into the water bowl, leaving your pet high and dry.

Counter surfing

A common, yet unwanted behavior, some dogs easily reach things in the kitchen that are counter-level. Ingesting yummy food that can harm or cause simple stomach upset is an obvious concern, but so is dragging off a heavy dish or pan or getting burned. Click here to get practical, positive reinforcement tips on curbing this dangerous behavior and dissuading curious canines.

Keep the wraps under wraps

Easter can be synonymous with more cooking and baking. Intestinal obstruction can result from ingested pieces of aluminum foil, wax paper and plastic wrap. Make sure that these items are put into the garbage.

Talking trash

All of the extra cooking means that a higher volume of refuse accumulates. Let’s face it — it’s attractive to some pets. To be on the safe side, take out your trash often, use a trash can with a lid or, in some cases, physically lock up your trash container where it’s completely out of reach.

Playing keep away

Too many fatty, rich, or unfamiliar foods can give your pet pancreatitis or gastroenteritis, two medical conditions that can be very painful and even life-threatening in some breeds.

A tiny bit of skinless fully-cooked poultry, gravy and veggies are okay (but avoid ham) to give your favorite feline or canine, (consider stuffing a Kong full of these goodies for your pooch during mealtime in their space), but too much of a good thing can result in a bad time for them. You also want to avoid giving pets any bones, grapes, raisins and chocolate.

Keep an eye on your beverages

Many gatherings include alcoholic refreshments. Bear in mind that dogs will readily lap up an errant beer or other alcoholic drink if given the chance. Alcohol can prove deadly to pets, so make a point to keep an eye out for unattended drinks, and remind guests to keep their beverages close at hand.

Keep prescription drugs up, up and away

Having extra people in the house brings up another important issue that each adult in the house needs to be aware of: the danger that human prescription medication poses for pets. It's easy enough to get in the habit of keeping these prescription bottles and tubes out of pet's reach during the normal work week. But when the routine is disturbed by having house guests come to stay for few nights, or even having guests come for a few hours to share a meal, it can be a real game-changer.

Let's face it: pets are naturally curious and can be impulsive. An errant prescription container in many ways looks as interesting to an animal as a pet toy might. In fact, prescription medication is a common pet toxin, according to the American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The organization lists human prescription medication as one on their top 10list of substances that are toxic to pets. The most commonly cited drugs are blood pressure medication, anti-inflammatories and topical creams. Whether they are pulled off of a counter or out of luggage or a purse, a pet can get ahold of a container and chew through it fast. A dropped pill that is quickly scarfed down by a curious pet is one of the most common scenarios where they might gain exposure to these drugs.

The easiest way to keep pets safe is to remind everyone in the house to keep their medication stored up high — perhaps on a shelf where even the most crafty pet can't reach, or in a secure cupboard - and to take extra care when taking a dose of their prescription to be sure that accidentally dropped pills are promptly retrieved.

Click here for more on some special considerations for Easter safety and cats.

Lorrie Shaw leads the pets section for Connect with her on Google+ and follow her daily adventures as a professional pet sitter or email her directly.



Sun, Mar 31, 2013 : 3:31 a.m.

And don't forget to keep away the "Easter grass" that ends up on the floor. Can be a problem in pets stomach/intestines.


Sun, Mar 31, 2013 : 3:28 a.m.

Thank You. What is the problem with ham for dogs?

Sarah Rigg

Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

I was wondering the same thing. Ham is fatty and sometimes cured ham has nitrates/nitrites, so I was wondering if that was it. I had a house guest feed ham to one of my cats and now I'm concerned.