Easter Pet Safety

easter pet bunny

Easter pet safety is important during spring celebrations. Pets, like kids, love to get into forbidden goodies. Unfortunately, raiding pets getting into the chocolate supply can face needless suffering-or death.

And each spring, animal clinics and veterinary hospitals see an increase in visits during those springtime holidays and Easter poses the greatest hazards to critters living with chocolate lovers.

Chocolate is toxic to animals and can be fatal because it contains a caffeine derivative (theobromine) and pets cannot fully metabolize chocolate. If enough is ingested it can create complications or kill an animal.

Symptoms from chocolate ingestion include hyperactivity, tremors, racing heartbeat, and seizures. Damage to the liver can also occur and is not so obvious.

This makes it is risky to leave boxes of candy out anywhere in the house.

So, how much chocolate does a dog have to consume before there is a problem?

In general it takes 100-150 mg/kg (2.2 pounds) theobromine to cause a toxic reaction.

Need to know info on theobromine in different chocolates:

  • Milk chocolate 44 mg/ounce
  • Semisweet chocolate 150mg/ounce
  • Baker’s chocolate 390mg/ounce

100 mg/kg (2.2 pounds) roughly translates to a toxic dosage of:

  • 1 ounce per 1 pound of body weight for milk chocolate,
  • 1 ounce per 3 pounds of body weight for semisweet chocolate, and
  • 1 ounce per 9 pounds of body weight for Baker’s chocolate.


Some flowers and plants can be toxic and it is a good idea to check with your veterinarians for a complete list for dogs, cats, or birds or see the toxic/non-toxic plant listing at the ASPCA pet poison information center.

Be sure to keep those flower baskets and potted plants out of reach of your animals too because animals love to explore with their mouths and make playthings out of everything. This means you should expect the worst and keep those lovely gifts and treats out of reach.

But there are other holiday hazards such as alcoholic beverages and wrapping items. Cellophane, ribbons, balloons, and other festive wrappings or decorations can be ingested and cause complications or death. Alcohol, often left out in glasses during celebrations, is another toxic item and should not be given to any pet.

You can combat some of the trouble if you make sure to provide special chew treats to occupy pets during egg hunts and other related activities during Easter and May Day celebrations. Also take care to note where all the human tidbits are hidden so that the pets don’t find the ones that got missed at a later date and get sick.

Easter Pets of the Past
In the past, Easter pets such as live chicks, ducks and bunnies were a common trend. However, thousands of these animals died from lack of proper care and stress. So, giving a live pet during this holiday is usually considered inhumane.

The best strategy is to teach children about responsible pet ownership or about being good animal caretakers. More appropriate efforts included the gift of a stuffed animal, an adoption certificate, or an Easter basket with novelty items such as Easter themed coloring books, toys, or snacks.

In fact, many zoos, farms, and shelters allow you to sponsor the care of an animal. These efforts help creatures of all types and teach responsible stewardship. You can also sponsor wildlife habitat. These types of stewardship or sponsorship certificates for animal lovers can be included in your baskets. If you want to give chicks as a gift, make a difference and give a flock of them to a needy family through Heifer International.

If you still insist on giving a live critter, remember that Easter babies require special care, feeding and temperatures. Ducks and chicks can carry salmonella and are not ideal pets since children can break their bones or cause other injuries by accident. Often other pets maim or kill them, and those once traditional Easter pets are not as amiable to attention as a dog or a cat.

Bunnies are cute when young but can live long lives. Unless trained, many rabbits do not like being confined and cuddled. They can bite or inflict pain to youngster by struggling and kicking with their hind legs. Rabbits can also be destructive and messy. These lagomorphs are at risk from dogs and cats, and many kids exhibit allergies to these animals.

Sadly, most Easter pets die in a few days or end up at animal service agencies where they are destroyed because they cannot be placed.

Instead, consider sharing the holidays with your humane pals and existing pets. Provide appropriate chew treats and toys to occupy your pets during your celebrations and spend extra time with pets or take a fun trip to a petting zoo or children’s zoo and enjoy close contact without the challenges.

Declawing Cats What Do you Think?

feline digital amputation onychectomy

Above: Feline Digital Amputation Courtesy of Maxs House

Not too long ago I posted a link to a blog article and video about cat declawing (Onychectomy) over on my Facebook page.

Cat declawing is not a new topic up for debate–it has been a hot one throughout my career as an animal behavior consultant and trainer and I wrote about it some time back when talking about cat scratching behavior problems.

Early in my career, when I first began to train big cats, it was common practice to declaw the front paws of tigers and lions and all four for leopards.

Then, we were hands on in the movie and television industry and the safety of the trainers and the actors or crew was part of the reason it was done.

But it painful and was horrible for the cats.

Personally, I am against the procedure because I know that cat scratching and clawing issues can be solved easily through behavior modification strategies.

The trick is to start early. Kittenhood is the best time to do prevention work and to train.

Yes, TRAIN your cat.

All my animals get trained and some of you might remember my completely trained cat. He liked to travel and would sit, down and come on command. (Seriously, he did.)

Doubt it?

Did you know that there are many highly trained fabulous felines working in Hollywood?

I happen to have worked with many and know some very famous critters—like Mr. Bigglesworth.

Mr. Bigglesworth fell in love with me the moment he set eyes on me and I hate to say it but when he scratched on my door that night, I let him in and slept with the handsome devil. (For those of you who don’t know, Mr. Bigglesworth is the famed cat of Austin Powers movies.)

Anyway, declawing is an uncomfortable and painful experience.

The amputation and mutilation is akin to removing the tip of your finger back to the joint.

Behavior problems such as scratching or clawing, can be addressed quickly and easily by simple strategies, or by a combination of different methods.

Today there are a multitude of products on the market to help avoid clawing and scratching problems.

Unfortunately, I am sad to report that many pet owners often avoid dealing with situations that involve behavior problems.

In fact I am still surprised at how many people mistakenly think that the problems will just disappear or solve themselves.

The reality is that most problems get worse and escalate in their intensity over time. The become firmly entrenched and so the issues then become much harder to address–and this is when some people opt for the surgical removal of the claws.

Most animal behavior problems, even in severe cases, can be addressed in an eight to twelve week period.

Faster progress is made with professional assistance from an animal behaviorist or coach.

To solve behavior problems it is necessary to target the contributing cause.

Once the reason underlying the symptom (problem) is determined, the situation can be resolved.

There are a variety of reasons why a cat will begin to engage in clawing and scratching behavior.

A behaviorist can pinpoint the problem and understand the motivation behind the behavior so you can pick the right solution.

Unfortunately, rather than deal with these situations early, pet owners will wait and then, in desperation, take drastic measures that may hurt, maim, or psychologically impact their animals for life.

Consultants in animal behavior see the negative repercussions of such extreme actions such as declawing.

Other behavior problems often follow the procedure and many declawed felines suffer from litterbox avoidance, psychological trauma, and day-to-day frustrations that prevent them from marking territory, protecting themselves, and helping them to align their spines.

Many declawed cats bite more—as it is their only line of defense.

They often have a difficult time with other animals because they feel vulnerable and so their aggression often escalates.

Is there a time I would recommend declawing?

Not really—and I never have.

Pet owners who are unwilling to work to make sure that their pet is properly schooled and trained or who are unwilling to keep an animal in the home for the duration of his or her lifespan are not the type of clients I see.

Okay, okay. Don’t get defensive on this issue.

This is not an ideal world and some exceptions may come up.

So, in an extreme case where it is necessary to insure an animal stays in the home, I might ponder it and a lot of people believe that is the only time it might be an option.

However, understand that the owners must have spent the necessary time working on the issue with a qualified animal behaviorist without success to receive such a recommendation.

Did you know that there are nail covers and other more palatable options to try before pondering such a recommendation?

It is important that you understand that declawing a feline will make that animal unsuitable for other homes making placement or adoption nearly impossible.

The procedure would also put the animal at great risk if it escapes or meanders outdoors.

Finally, you might not agree with my professional opinion and that is your prerogative.

Below I have attached some links to the commentaries of some of the larger professional groups and clubs so you could read other opinions on the topic and have also attached some videos that were shared with me last week.

Below: Cat Declaw Surgery

Okay, your turn to chime in via the comments. What do you think about cat declawing?