How to Have a Fun, Festive, Pet Safe, Happy Easter

How to Have a Fun, Festive, Pet Safe, Happy Easter

Spring is in the air! And along with the new season, comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down that Bunny Trail.

With all the excitement of families gathering together and stepping outside for some Easter fun, whether it’s hunting for hidden eggs or kids searching for their Easter baskets, this holiday is also a good time to review some innocent looking dangers in order to avoid them so a Happy Easter can be had by all, especially our canine companions.

Spring Showers Bring Pretty Flowers

Easter plants and flowers, i.e. lilies, daffodils, azaleas, hyacinths, tulips etc., are very pretty, but they are toxic to our pets (dogs, cats, and horses). So if you share your home with a pet and were planning on planting, decorating, or giving a pet parent friend one as a gift, please go faux or don’t give or plant one at all!

To see a full list of plants toxic to pets, visit the ASPCA’s website at:

A Tisket, A Tasket, Beware of That Easter Basket!

Oh, how much fun to go on an Easter egg and basket hunt! One of the highlights of Easter morning for the kids (and adults)! While having fun, please keep a cautious eye out for some innocent-looking dangers for dogs:

Easter Grass

Easter basket grass is so festive, but it can be a choking hazard for your dog. Be cautious, or better yet, don’t use it; use crumpled up colored tissue paper or recycle by shredding newspaper funny sheets instead!

Oh, Boy, Toys!

Many Easter baskets are filled with bright, shiny plastic Easter eggs and cute little children’s toys that are so much fun to play with, but watch out as pieces of plastic, small parts, and toy batteries your dog could wind up swallowing, and possibly causing an injury or a blockage. Just keep the basket placed up high and out of a dog’s reach to avoid an emergency trip to the vet’s.

Chocolate? So Not for Dogs!

What’s an Easter basket without a chocolate bunny or an egg hunt without chocolate eggs? Please be sure to keep baskets out of the reach of your dogs. Hide the chocolate eggs in safe dog-free zones or areas where your dogs cannot get to them. When in doubt, skip hiding chocolate eggs.

Chocolate is toxic, and according to the ASPCA, darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. If ingested, your dog can become very sick with “vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and even death.” Be sure to make note of where you hide all the eggs, and after the hunt, do a sweep to be sure none were left behind or fell down to dog level. (A good suggestion is to get down on all of your fours and see the world from your dog’s eye view).

Sugar-Free, Not to Be!

Watch out for sugar-free candy, gum, cakes, etc. containing Xylitol. According to the ASPCA, “Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy, and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days. So ladies and gents, watch those open purses or coat pockets where dogs can easily get into.

Flee the Sweet Treats!

While sugary desserts, candy, cakes, and jellybeans are so tempting for us humans, all that sugar is not good for anyone, including our dogs! Too many sweet treats can lead to hypoglycemia, diabetes, obesity, hyperactivity, and dental issues. Instead, give your dog a nice fresh healthy homemade dog treat!

Be a Good Egg.

While cooked hard-boiled eggs can be a healthy addition to your dog’s diet, a rotten one certainly isn’t. If your child’s basket or Easter egg hunt includes colored hard-boiled eggs, make note of the number of them and where you hide them all. At the end of the hunt, make sure they are all accounted for to ensure that your dog, with his super-duper keen sense of smell, doesn’t find them at a later date and eat them when they have spoiled.

What’s for Dinner?

Mmmm-mmm. The tempting aromas of Easter dinner cooking in the oven can cause even a human to drool! Keep in mind that many foods we find delicious are not healthy or safe for our dogs. Things to keep away from them, include:

  • Fatty gravies and foods
  • Cooked chicken and small meat bones
  • Onions and garlic
  • Avocado, nuts, raisins, and grapes.
  • Salt, including salty snacks such as potato chips, popcorn, and pretzels
  • Coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages
  • Alcohol

For a complete list of dangerous foods for dogs, visit the American Humane Society’s website at:

Open Door to Guests, Not Pets!

As with any holiday, it’s an exciting time and many guests will arrive and depart our homes. All the hustling and bustling can create stress or anxiety for our pets. You may want talk to your vet ahead of time about using a natural calming aid, herbal calming collar, or a pheromone plug-in or spay to help reduce their anxiety.

Keeping them safely behind gates, doors, or in kennels (during these times when doors will be opened) to help from stressing them out, and hopefully prevent them from pulling a Houdini and escaping. And added tip – be sure your dog’s microchip information is up-to-date, put their collars with current tags on, and have leashes and a photo nearby…just in case.

An Ounce of Prevention

Keep your veterinarian, emergency vet clinic, and animal poison control numbers posted near your phone, and listed in your cell phone.

ASPCA Poison Control – (888) 426-4435. Open 24/7, all year round. Note: A $83.99 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card. For more info, visit their website at:

Pet Poison Hotline – (855)-764-7661. Open 24/7. Note: $63.00 per incident fee applies. For more info, visit their website at:

Benjamin Franklin’s wise words, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is a great mantra to remember to help keep the holiday season joyful. With a little preplanning, caution, and care, we can all have a fun, safe, and Happy Easter with our beloved furpals!

Dorothy Wills-RafteryDorothy Wills-Raftery

Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an award-winning photojournalist and author of EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy; the FiveSibes™ Tales children’s books What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and Getting Healthy With Harley: Learning About Health & Fitness; and Buddy, the Christmas Husky~Based On A True Holiday Miracle books (ArcticHouse Publishing), as well as the international FiveSibes blog, based on the lives of her five Siberian Huskies. Her work has also appeared in American Pet Magazine, Ruff Drafts, The Sled Dogger, and Hudson Valley Paw Print Magazine. Dorothy is the writer and host of “The Sibe Vibe” Dog Works Radio show.” Named “Best Author” in 2015 & 2016 by Hudson Valley Magazine and all four books named “Best in Print” by American Pet Magazine, Dorothy is a 5-time Dog Writers of America Association “Excellence” nominee, winning the prestigious Maxwell Medallion in 2016 for her writing. An official International Purple Day® for Epilepsy Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation-Canine Epilepsy, Dorothy is the creator of the FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K-9 Epilepsy Awareness campaign inspired by her own epileptic Husky, Gibson. In addition to her Siberian Huskies, Dorothy shares her home­ with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and new grandson. You can follow Dorothy and her FiveSibes on Facebook at FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews, on Google + , Twitter, and Instagram (@FiveSibesMom).