Beware the bunny: chocolate is tasty for humans, but death to all things furry.
Ever witness your companion animals attack a perceived danger or intruder in the house or yard? They spy said danger. Freeze. Wheels must be turning in their wee brains as they plot their attack. Then, they coil and assume the attack pose, awaiting the perfect moment, when the unsuspecting intruder is most vulnerable.
Whoosh! Intruder doesn’t know what hit them.
Disrupted, disengaged, disabled. Whatever. It’s done and the home and all its occupants are safe and sound once again.
Now where’s my treat, Mom, Dad?
Animals can’t distinguish between a burlap sack covering tomatoes plants for an early frost or Stranger Danger. They will react the same: protect, defend, demand treat.
We all take precautions around Halloween because the decorations and treats are out and about our houses for quite a while. The candy buckets are up, up, and away and positioned near the front entrance to reward spooky goblins knocking at the door; Rover may catch a sniff of a Hershey’s Kiss, but the key word here is “up”: even if his paws do reach the candy bucket, he will cause such a clatter when it cascades down, all and anyone home will know immediately what’s happened and trot to the rescue.
With Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa, Chanukkah and Christmas following in close succession, we become pretty practiced at keeping prying paws and naughty noses at safe distances from dangerous decorations and Christmas Kringle.
But when Easter comes, well, it’s been a while (unless you count Valentine’s Day, but that’s so close to New Year’s Day and all its assorted resolutions, and not all of us are showered with Godiva chocolates) we might be out of practice of holiday hazards and companion animals.
There are many.
Let’s start with the bunny.
Downright scary if you have four paws and your eye-level existence is about 12 inches off the floor. Ever look in the eyes of a chocolate bunny? Dunno if it’s the cellophane or the lack of oxygen, but dang! They taunt the rest of the world from the safety of their incubator-like existence, pointing out the eggshell blue of their eyes, their pristine white teeth and their sunshine yellow fur [does anyone dare ask whether a rabbit is supposed to be yellow?]
Imagine how that all looks to a dog or cat, who has a whole household to defend against 1) U.S. mail carriers who arrive at the front door daily, making all kinds of noise on the front porch and leaving suspicious packages at the front door, 2) the paper boy, who whomp! tosses a heavy dose of newsprint against the front door at 5:17 each a.m. 3) the trash collector who tries to steal our stuff every week 4) the U.S. Census employees, who keep asking if the occupants of the household need help filling out the form.
Place any of this in a basket with bows and colored, sweet-smelling jelly beans and fake plastic eggs and a couple Cadbury eggs with that glossy paper and some more shiny paper as bedding on the floor overnight …. this is a disaster waiting to happen for any companion animal – birds, ferrets, cats, dogs, real rabbits, but not fish unless they hop out like Ghost did, but he probably was after freedom, not the Easter basket.
Exercise the same caution with this spring holiday season as you did with fall and winter holidays. Don’t be lulled into complacency with the promises of renewal that spring brings. It is a joyous season, but exercise caution for your animals.
A few tips:
- Keep the Easter goodies hidden in various cabinets until it’s time to put the baskets together.
- Do not open the bags until it’s time to use the contents.
- Wake up early in the morning and hide the colored eggs; do not hide them overnight.
- If you have to assemble the Easter gift baskets late at night, place them up in a cupboard or in the garage – someplace a dexterous, agile cat or dog with good hang time can’t get into it.
- Place the Easter baskets in their special place early in the morning; do not place them out in community areas of the house overnight. Keep track of plastic Easter grass.
- Hide the leftover Easter goodies in a Ziploc bag, then within another Ziploc bag and locate it all in a top shelf, in the back of a cupboard.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals noted in its list of Top Ten Most Common Pet Poisons of 2015 that chocolate was among the top foods that animals mistakenly ingested. Ingested people food accounted for 17,453 calls to the ASPCA Pet Poison Control Hotline in 2015, or an average of 37 calls a day.
For more information on animal poison control, see the ASPCA’s site: you’ll find plenty of tips for keeping your home safe (be sure to read the FAQ) as well as more details on their list of “dishonors.”
The ASPCA maintains a list of people foods to avoid feeding animals; chocolate is at the top of that list. Darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate, which surprises many people.
See the site for other information; the list may surprise you!
And as always, if you think your animal may have ingested something toxic, call the ASPCA 24-hour Pet Poison Control hotline at (888) 426-4435. For a $60 fee, you can speak to a board-certified veterinarian who will listen to your description of the symptoms and advise on the immediate situation as well as follow up with your regular veterinarian.
And don’t forget:
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals hosts its own version of madness: 2016 Happy Tails Championships. Over the next few weeks, the public can vote to decide which awesome adoption stories will make it to the final, furry showdown. The last champ standing will receive a Flip video camera to record all future moments of sporty glory.
Don’t miss the action – check out the furry competitors and vote today!