For us hoomans Easter can be a particularly fun time of year. Kids are on holidays (Yay, no school lunches). Family get togethers can bring love and laughter. And there’s chocolate. Hey, what’s not to love? But, when it comes to pet safety, Easter can bring hazards!
Apart from the accidental consumption of easter eggs, which can make your pet very unwell, travel, unfamiliar people and new places can disrupt your fur pal’s routine. So, as responsible pet parents, it’s important to consider the things that may affect your pet’s safety as well as the action you can take to keep your four-pawed pal safe and content (and away from the Easter eggs!).
Here are a few expert tips from our friends at PetStock and ilume.
Keep Easter Eggs Out of Reach
Without a doubt, the number one rule when it comes to Easter pet safety is to keep chocolate away from pets.
PetStock vet Dr Katherine Macmillan explains, “Most people are aware that chocolate is toxic to dogs. The main ingredient that causes problems, theobromine, is found in the cocoa beans that are used to make chocolate. Like caffeine, dogs cannot metabolise theobromine as well as people are able to and this can lead to a range of problems, including death in the worst-case scenario.”
Symptoms of chocolate toxicity in pets include:
- Excessive thirst or urination
- Restlessness and agitation
- Bloated abdomen
- Twitching and stiffness
- Elevated temperature
- Elevated heart rate
“Signs can develop between 2 and 12 hours after the chocolate is eaten. If your dog is unwell, you should seek urgent veterinary attention.
“Even better, if you are aware that your dog has eaten a significant quantity of chocolate take them to a vet before they show any signs of being unwell. The vet will induce emesis (make your dog vomit) which will stop the toxin from being absorbed.”
Travel With Care
For many people, easter means travelling to see family and friends. If you intend to take your cat or dog with you, make sure you plan ahead.
“It’s important to consider pet safety during transit. It’s a great idea to secure them in a drive harness and anchor, pet carrier or cargo barrier,” advises Dr Macmillan.
“Pets can’t distract you with the typical ‘are we there yet?’ questions, but there are other signs your pet can give you to let you know when they’re feeling uncomfortable or bored. Map out in advance regular pit stops with rest areas to stretch legs and toilet breaks.”
What’s more, if you’re going to be staying at a holiday rental over the Easter break, think about ways to ensure your pet’s safety and comfort.
“When taken away from their usual environment, dogs and cats can feel separated from their ‘space’ or ‘territory’. This can cause them to feel anxious. Signs of anxiety can include destruction to the home, pacing, excessive barking, digging, or even attempting to escape,” says Dr Macmillan.
“In saying that, it’s a good idea to allow your pet to reorient themselves and explore their new surroundings when you first arrive at your accommodation.
“Be sure to bring along your dog’s regular bedding, water bowl, leash, treats, toys, and any other necessary equipment. Also, dogs thrive on routine, so keep to your pet’s regular schedule as much as possible.”
Consider the Weather
Sure, summer is over but many parts of Australia are still enjoying beautiful, warm days. Ilume spokesperson and dog behaviourist Laura V says, “While your dog may still want to be active when you’re out enjoying the sunshine together, hot days are dangerous to dogs. This is particularly the case for older dogs, puppies and dogs with squished faces (brachycephalic).
“In these instances, it’s best to modify your exercise to suit the weather. Gentler exercise at dusk or dawn is ideal. And remember, if you can’t hold your hand on the footpath for a couple of seconds without it feeling hot, your dog shouldn’t be walking on it.”
She adds, “If you’re venturing beyond the familiar this Easter, make sure your dog knows basic training – especially how to recall – before you head out. If you’re heading away and your dog is joining you, or if you are simply going to a new park or beach, it is crucial that your dog comes back to you when you call them.
“Practise this well before you need to use it, in your house and backyard, making recall the most exciting opportunity possible! The best way to train your dog is by using play, treats and great enthusiasm, make the recall a game instead of an obligation. If you are part of the fun, instead of the ‘fun police’, you will find your attempts to recall your dog are far more successful. Until then, make sure your dog is on a lead!”
Have a safe Easter!