Easter Baskets Can Kill Your Pets

Chocolate bunnies might be traditional holiday treats, but the contents of your child’s Easter basket can kill your dog or cat.

Easter Baskets Are Dangerous to Pets
Some of the treats in Easter baskets can kill pets.

Children love Easter, especially the basket full of treats the Easter Bunny leaves them.

Unfortunately, many of the items parents fill the baskets with can cause your pets serious problems, even death.

This year, make sure your kid’s Easter fun is also pet-safe.



Chocolate is on the list of no-nos for all pets. Although dogs have the highest risk of chocolate toxicity, cats can also experience serious symptoms after ingesting chocolate.

As Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM, reports, “Chocolate is made from the fruit (beans) of the cacao tree. Theobromine, a component of chocolate, is a toxic compound in chocolate. Caffeine is also present in chocolate and a toxic component, but in much smaller amounts than Theobromine. Both Theobromine and Caffeine are members of a drug class called Methylxanines.”

Chocolate toxicity can cause damage to the central nervous system, as well as increased blood pressure, nausea, vomiting and even death. Symptoms include hyperactivity and seizures.

If your Easter basket contains any kind of chocolate, be sure your pets can’t get to it, and educate your kids about what could happen if your dog eats a chocolate bunny or egg.

Plastic Easter Grass

The ubiquitous Easter basket filler isn’t toxic, but it can cause serious problems if your dog or cat eats it. Anything long and stringy, including Christmas tinsel, can become tangled in your pet’s stomach and bowels, which can result in internal damage that requires immediate surgery.

The problem with plastic grass is that cats love to play with it and often nibble on it or eat it. Also, it gets everywhere, much like confetti. Consider stuffing your child’s Easter basket with crumpled tissue paper instead.

The Basket Itself

Cats and dogs love to chew on sticks and wood, and many Easter baskets are treated with toxic chemicals, like paint and gloss spray, which can cause stomach upset. Select a festive box, plastic basket or an untreated wood basket.



All members of the lily family are poisonous to pets. According to Dr. Justine Lee, DVM, DACVECC, “More dangerous, potentially fatal lilies are true lilies, and these include tiger, day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese show lilies — all of which are highly toxic to cats! Even small ingestions (such as two to three petals or leaves) can result in severe acute kidney failure.”

If you have a dog, you can set the flowers in a place dogs can’t reach, such as a high countertop. Cats, however, can jump, so there’s really no safe place in your home for lilies.

Also keep in mind that giving your child a pet bunny or chick is a bad idea, too. They may love their Easter pets for a few months or weeks, but chances are good those animals will wind up in an animal shelter when your children tire of them.

Easter bunny dogs
Bunny dog photos, from left: K9 Playgroups, TW Collins, mphoenix/Flickr


This pet health content was reviewed for accuracy by a veterinarian, Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS. It was last reviewed and updated Feb. 4, 2019.


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