Think twice before adding bunnies or chicks to that Easter basket
Baby chicks, bunnies and ducks may seem like the perfect Easter basket addition, but think twice! These cute babies grow up into large, adult animals requiring full-time care.
Rabbits make wonderful pets, but they aren't care-free pets. They have to be taken care of just like you would a dog or a cat. Rabbits commonly live for 8-10 years, and can live as long as 15, depending upon the breed, so it is a long-term commitment. Other factors to consider include the fact that not as many vets are xperienced with rabbits, so your veterinary costs could be higher than you might expect to pay for a dog.
Unfortunately, many well-meaning people give a live animal as an Easter present on a whim. In a few weeks, they realize they made a mistake. Local shelters are swamped with bunnies, ducklings and chicks right after Easter, and sadly many wind up being euthanized.
The worst thing you can do is release that unwanted Easter animal into the wild.
As an alternative, make gift certificates and give the kids a plush animal toy for Easter. Then you and the kids can go together to pick a real pet, one you can care for and love, after the holiday.
Salmonella is another issue
Young birds like chicks and ducklings often carry salmonella. Children are 'particularly at risk because they are less likely to wash their hands, and also have more hand-to-mouth contact with the animals than adults do.
The CDC recommends that children less than five years of age not be allowed to handle chicks or other baby poultry, and that strict hygiene be followed by anyone handling these animals (thorough hand washing, not handling the chicks while eating or near food preparation areas, and thorough disinfection of all surfaces with which chicks may have come into contact). Good advice for anyone considering getting a chick or anyone who gets a chance to handle chicks on display in other settings such as schools.
Safety for your pets
Almost any type of candy can be harmful to pets and chocolate can be toxic to cats, dogs and other small animals. Keep your pet out of the Easter basket and away from candy, especially chocolate – no matter how much they beg. They can choke on jelly beans and small pieces of hard candy.
Chocolate toxicity is among the 20 most common poisoning agents according to the National Animal Poison Control Center. Chocolate contains a caffeine derivative (theobromine) that cannot be fully metabolized by small animals. If a sufficient amount is ingested, it can create severe health complications or kill your pet. The smaller the animal the more dangerous chocolate can be to the animal’s system. A small chocolate rabbit may have no negative effect on a full-grown German shepherd, but could kill a Chihuahua. Ingestion of chocolate can result in vomiting and diarrhea, restlessness and hyperactivity, an increased heart rate and breathing difficulties. Liver damage is also a possibility and is not so obvious. Many pets will eat almost anything that they can find, including Easter treats. Every pet parent should make an effort to keep these foods beyond the reach of their pets.
Easter egg hunts
At Easter, the egg takes center stage. Your pet views all eggs, plastic and real, as new toys to play with. If you are planning an Easter egg hunt in your backyard or neighborhood, make sure you retrieve all hardboiled eggs from their hiding places. Although these eggs are not dangerous to animals when fresh, if left outside, the egg will rot and may be discovered and eaten by your pet. Rotten eggs may not kill your pet but they will likely cause some type of gastrointestinal distress.
Egg decorating supplies (dyes, glitter, glue, paints and felt tip pens) may be enticing to dogs and cats and can cause general stomach distress if ingested. Keep the pets away from the craft table and clean up after decorating your Easter eggs.
Plastic Easter grass can be extremely dangerous to animals if ingested. Cats are particularly curious about Easter grass because it resembles one of their favorite toys - string. The grass cannot be digested and may become twisted around your pet's intestines and can be fatal if not discovered in time. The only solution may be risky, expensive surgery. Candy wrappers, small plastic eggs and toys can also pose a choking danger to pets if ingested. Paper Easter grass is a safer alternative to the plastic grass.
Peace for your pets
Consider your pets when planning Easter gatherings. Loud noises, sudden movements by excited children and large groups of people can be highly stressful to pets. Your pet may not want to participate in the neighborhood Easter egg hunt or family dinner and may prefer to hang out in a quiet area of the house during the celebration. But don’t leave your pets out of the fun – prepare a special pet-friendly Easter basket for them with special treats and toys.