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Ask a Vet: Keep Easter ham, candy away from your pets
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Happy Easter!  As you read this, I am on my way to Chicago for opening day at Wrigley Field.

I am a lifelong Cubs fan — bless my heart — and this is part of my 40th birthday present.

If you’re familiar with the history of the Cubs’ baseball team, you know tonight’s game offers me a strong chance for emotional damage.  But in this column, I focus on the risk of damage to your pets.

Easter can be risky for your pet, especially dogs and cats. But any animal that can access food or decorations can encounter trouble.

To make it easy, don’t let them get into anything. To stress this point, here are a few details:

Chocolate is toxic to your pet.

If they ingest enough, you can get hyper stimulation of the nervous system and resulting problems. Rare cases can result in seizures or cardiac dysfunction.  Most cases result in vomiting or diarrhea with a strong chocolate odor mixed in.  Avoid that.

Human foods can cause just the same issues.

Ham, for example, is extremely difficult for most dogs and cats to digest. And often your pets’ reaction to pork is all you need to prompt a floor replacement. In some cases, pork ingestion can yield pancreatic inflammation, and that can be fatal.

Seasonal decorations can prove harmful.

Even if your pet doesn’t get into the candy or food, if they eat a piece of hard plastic that smells like food, disaster may occur.  If you’re lucky, you may only get an upset stomach.  If you’re unlucky, a blockage may occur and surgery could be required to save your animal’s life.

So keep the plastic eggs and baskets and Easter grass safely out of your pal’s reach.

Finally, the decorative plants are disastrous.

Depending on the plant, nature has provided some flowers with ruthless defense mechanisms.  The Easter lily contains chemicals that can destroy the kidneys in much the same way antifreeze does.  Cats are especially sensitive to this and are usually more inclined to chew plants in the home.

So take care and guard your pets!

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at

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