What to avoid this Easter with your pets

Easter weekend has arrived, and with it comes celebrations with family and friends, and hazards for your pets.

Austin Pets Alive! is warning pet owners to be mindful of common Easter hazards and toxins this weekend. 

"If your pet does ingest these, it is important to contact your private vet or an emergency vet ASAP," says Dr. Gordon, a veterinarian at APA!. "They will help to determine if it is safe to induce vomiting in your pet or if further medical care is needed."

Pet owners can click here to search for free or low-cost pet services like veterinary care, pet food pantries, and more.

Common hazards and toxins include:


Chocolate and wrappers can cause dangerous sickness in dogs and cats. 

According to the FDA, chocolate contains theobromine, a compound in the same family as caffeine, and theophylline (an asthma drug). Different types of chocolate contain different amounts of theobromine, which alongside how much your dog ate, the dog's size and the dog's extra-sensitivity to theobromine could determine whether your dog will have a toxic reaction.


Empty Bowl of Melted Chocolate. (Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Cats are also sensitive to theobromine just like dogs, says the ASPCA.

Signs to watch out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Urinating more
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Other neurological signs

The FDA advises pet owners to call their vet immediately if they think their pet has consumed chocolate

Sugar-free candies

Candies sweetened with xylitol can be deadly for dogs.

Xylitol, also known as wood sugar, birch sugar and birch bark extract along with other names, is a sweetener found in a wide range of products, according to the FDA. It can be found in:

  • Sugar-free desserts
  • Sugar-free candy and mints
  • Sugar-free jams, jellies, and nut butters
  • Sugar-free gum
  • Mouthwashes, oral rinses, and toothpastes
  • Cough syrups and liquid medicines for adults and children
  • Other types of medicines like nasal sprays
  • Dietary supplements (like fiber gummies and sleep aids)

Xylitol can quickly lead to low blood sugar or acute liver failure, and xylitol poisoning can start within 20 minutes, says the FDA. 

Signs to watch out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Decreased activity level
  • Weakness and collapse
  • Difficulty walking or standing
  • Shaking or seizures
  • Coma
  • Liver failure
  • Bleeding problems

Pet owners who suspect their dog has eaten a product containing xylitol are advised to call their vet, emergency animal clinic or animal poison control center immediately.


Some flowers common to Easter celebrations are toxic to pets, including lilies, daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. APA! notes that lily poisoning in cats increases by 85% in April and May.

The FDA says that the entire lily plant is toxic to cats, from pollen to flowers to stems to leaves and even the water in the vase. Consuming even a small amount of a leaf or petal, drinking the water from the vase or even licking pollen off its fur can cause fatal kidney failure to develop in less than 3 days.


UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 27: Calla lily (Zantedeschia sp), Araceae. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Signs to watch out for include: 

  • Decreased activity level
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite 

These symptoms start 0 to 12 hours after ingestion. Signs of kidney damage start about 12 to 24 hours after ingestion and include increased urination and dehydration. Kidney failure occurs within 24 to 72 hours, leading to death if the cat isn’t treated. 

Early veterinary treatment greatly improves the cat’s prognosis. However, if treatment is delayed by 18 hours or more after ingestion, the cat will generally have irreversible kidney failure, says the FDA.

The ASPCA offers a list of plants both toxic and non-toxic to dogs, cats and horses. Click here to check and see if the plants you're bringing into your home are safe for your pets.

Plastic eggs & grass


These popular decorations can cause painful obstructions and injuries if ingested, says APA!

The ASPCA says the grass can become lodged in the gastrointestinal tract and wreak havoc if consumed. 

Signs to watch out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Lethargy 
  • Stomach pain


Rich, fatty foods can cause inflammation and gastrointestinal upset, so APA! recommends keeping your pet on their regular diet.

The ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center has a list of foods to avoid feeding your pets.

Some foods to avoid include:

  • Alcohol: Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.
  • Citrus: The stems, leaves, peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants contain varying amounts of citric acid, which can cause irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression if ingested in significant amounts. Small doses, such as eating the fruit, are not likely to cause problems beyond minor stomach upset.
  • Coconut and coconut oil: Coconut and coconut-based products are not likely to cause serious harm when ingested in small amounts. The flesh and milk of fresh coconuts do contain oils that may cause stomach upset, loose stools or diarrhea. However, coconut water is high in potassium and should not be given to pets.
  • Grapes and raisins: Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure in dogs.
  • Macadamia nuts: Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 24 to 48 hours.
  • Milk and dairy: Pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase, so consuming milk and other dairy-based products cause diarrhea or other digestive upset.
  • Nuts: Nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, contain high amounts of oils and fats, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and potentially pancreatitis in pets.
  • Onions, garlic, and chives: These can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage and anemia. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if they consume a large enough amount. 

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA - 2015/03/30: White onions a delicious and healthy food ingredient very common in the Latin American cuisine, produce over a wooden surface, natural light and shallow creative depth of field. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/Lig

  • Raw/undercooked meat, eggs and bones: Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli harmful to pets and humans. Raw eggs contain avidin, an enzyme that decreases the absorption of biotin, which can lead to skin and coat problems. Raw bones can also be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke or be injured should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture the digestive tract.
  • Salt and salty snack foods: Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs to watch out for include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death.
  • Yeast dough: Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in the digestive system, which can be painful and cause the stomach to bloat and potentially twist, becoming a life-threatening emergency. The yeast also produces ethanol as a by-product and a dog ingesting raw bread dough can become drunk.