Updated: Mar 25
As you’re getting ready for the arrival of the Easter Bunny, don’t forget to plan for how your dog will be involved in the holiday. Many of our favorite Easter treats and traditions can be dangerous for our dogs, but with some preparation, you’ll be able to enjoy your family traditions and keep your dog safe at the same time. You can even find ways to safely involve your dog in the day’s festivities.
Don’t Share Your Meal:
Unfortunately, most of our favorite Easter treats are dangerous for our dogs. Some of these treats like chocolate bunnies are toxic for dogs, and others are dangerous because they are usually prepared with ingredients like onions, garlic, or xylitol which are toxic to dogs. Whereas other Easter foods have high levels of salt or sugar which can upset your dog’s stomach and aren’t good for them to eat. Some common Easter foods which should be kept away from dogs include:
Mashed potatoes / twice baked potatoes
Green beans (if prepared with butter or have garlic and onions added) plain green beans are safe to share with your dog.
If you are going to have guests over for Easter brunch or dinner, be sure to keep an eye on your dog, as well as where people put plates to make sure they aren’t left unaccompanied in a location where your dog can reach.
Watch Your Glass
Many families enjoy having a drink at Easter but it’s important to not let your dog have a lick. Alcohol is toxic to dogs so make sure to keep glasses containing alcohol in locations where your dog can’t reach them. Make sure that you and your guests don’t leave glasses containing alcohol on low coffee tables, on the floor, or anywhere else your dog can access it.
Egg Hunt Dangers
Easter egg hunts are fun for kids and families, but it’s a good idea to prevent your dog from getting involved. The energy of children running, laughing, yelling, and racing to grab eggs can be overstimulating for many dogs. Dogs who don’t understand the festivities may begin to chase Easter egg hunters. Dogs may also grab eggs themselves, and the excitement of the hunt could trigger resource guarding from dogs who might not want to relinquish the eggs they find and won’t understand that the treasures aren’t for them. The primary safety issue of Easter egg hunts for dogs is the plastic eggs, and everything put inside them. Dogs can grab and open the plastic eggs, possibly chewing or swallowing the plastic which could cut their mouth or cause an obstruction. Hidden chocolate and candy in Easter eggs can be especially harmful for dogs. Even in small quantities chocolate is toxic to dogs. Similarly, many non-chocolate candies especially sugar-free candies may contain xylitol which even in small quantities is toxic to dogs. Easter eggs also often come with small plastic and rubber toys which if ingested could be hazardous to your dog. It is best to keep your dog away from any egg hunts by keeping your dog leashed to you, or in another area of your home.
If you’re hosting an Easter egg hunt, keep track of all the places where the eggs are hidden. Once the Easter egg hunt is over be sure to double-check that all the eggs have been found and that none have been left where you dogs can find them. Also confirm that no eggs have been dropped by Easter egg hunters or left sitting out at a level where your dog can reach. Before letting your dog out, check your yard for any candy wrappers that may have accidentally been discarded on the ground. Foil from around chocolate bunnies and plastic candy wrappers are attractive to dogs but are not digestible.
Avoid Easter Lilies
Easter Lilies are beautiful but they shouldn’t be brought into homes with pets. Lilies are very popular gifts during the Easter season, but they are highly toxic to cats, and can lead to kidney failure. In addition, lilies can be toxic to our dogs so it’s best to avoid having any in the home to prevent your dog from having access to them.
Supervise Easter Baskets
If you’re going to be creating and gifting Easter baskets, keep the baskets, you make in a location where your dog cannot reach. Classic Easter treats like chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs are toxic to dogs. Easter baskets themselves can be dangerous to dogs if they contain plastic Easter grass. This popular decoration is festive, but if eaten by dogs can lead to an obstruction and require emergency veterinary care. A safer alternative is to purchase decorative Easter basket grass made from recycled paper.
Dog Easter Baskets
Although many Easter traditions and gifts can be dangerous for our dogs, there are safe and enjoyable ways to involve your dog with the Easter festivities. You can make your dog their own Easter basket to open on Easter morning (with help and supervision). Easter basket treats perfect for dogs include festive toys and treats, as well as festive bandannas or outfits for the day (if you enjoy dressing your dog up, and your dog is comfortable wearing outfits).
Dog Safe Easter Egg Hunt
Giving your dog their own Easter egg hunt is a fun way to include your dog in the holiday. Hide small pieces of your dog’s favorite treats, or toys around a room in your house, or in a fenced yard. Once you’ve hidden toys and treats, encourage them to start searching and praise your dog as they find each hidden treat or toy. You can also use plastic Easter eggs to hide treats or scent (if you train in the sport of scent work) for your dog to search for around your home.
If you’re going to hide treats or scent in the plastic eggs, keep track of where all the eggs are hidden, and closely monitor your dog while they are searching to help them open the eggs to give your dog the treat if you’re hiding treats, or to reward your dog at scent if you have put scent like birch inside. If you have multiple dogs, it’s best to set up separate Easter “egg” hunts for each dog. Having each dog search separately will prevent any conflict, resource guarding, or bullying between dogs as they search for their treats and toys. Not only is this fun for your dog, but it’s also a great way to start training towards earning a Virtual Scent Work Title through AKC with your dog.
Create Space & Supervise
If you’re having small Easter festivities with your immediate family, or a larger Easter gathering it’s important to supervise your dog to make sure they are comfortable, especially around children. If your dog gets overwhelmed with guests coming into the house, it’s a good idea to have your dog leashed so you can support your dog to make good decisions. Alternately, you can give your dog a treat-stuffed toy or dog-safe chew in their crate, or a quiet area of the house behind a door or dog/baby gate. This can help dogs to relax while visitors are in the house, or while you’re occupied with Easter festivities and can’t pay attention to your dog.