Easter is fast approaching and, along with the egg dying, egg hunts, and amazingly awkward mall pictures with the Easter bunny, the holiday brings with it a spring feast for the whole family. But does that include the furry family members? It can—if you're smart about it.
You don't necessarily have to deny your dogs and cats their share of Easter treats, but you should brush up on which foods and ingredients that are safe for your pets before sneaking them some yummy leftovers.
Here's a quick guide to which Easter leftovers you can safely give to your pet—and which you can't.
Say no to chocolate
Candy, particularly chocolate, is an Easter staple. The Easter bunny fills children's (and adults', if they're lucky or still kids at heart) Easter baskets with chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, marshmallow peeps, and other sweet treats. All chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is poisonous to dogs and cats. When pets eat chocolate, the result is often panting, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water intake and urinary output, tremors, seizures and abnormal heart rhythms. Theobromine can even cause death. While baking chocolate contains the highest levels of theobromine, all chocolates, even white chocolate, contains the substance.
Say yes—in EXTREME moderation—to ham
Ham is a huge Easter tradition and it's one that you can share with your dog—in extreme moderation. Ham is a source of protein, which even pets need, but store-bought hams tend to be very high in sodium, which can be harmful for pets and all ham is high in fat, which isn't good for pets in large amounts. Specifically, too much fat can lead to pancreatitis and other digestive upsets in your pet.
Say yes to lamb
Lamb is safe for both cats and dogs. Just make sure that the piece you give your pet doesn't have any sauces or seasonings that would be dangerous for their health.
Say yes to eggs
Eggs are a great source of protein and a safe food for dogs to eat. They're healthy and nutritious and can even help settle upset tummies in pups. This means that, yeah, your dog can help you make your way through all of those hard-boiled eggs you have after Easter. Note: You should AVOID sharing deviled eggs with your dog, since some of the common ingredients can be harmful for them. However, there are dog-friendly deviled egg recipes out there if you want to modify your usual recipe to make them shareable.
Say no to hot cross buns
Hot Cross Buns are an Easter tradition, but not one that your pets should share in. Grapes, raisins, currants, and sultanas are all toxic to dogs, so you should keep these buns (which often contain raisins and/or currants) away from your pets.
Say yes to vegetables
The veggies you're serving with your Easter meal are almost all going to be a-ok for your furry friends. Green beans, peas, carrots, squash, and asparagus are excellent, low-calorie snacks for pets. Just make sure that you serve your pets veggies that don't have seasonings, butter and sauces added, and of course, stay away from garlic and onions, which are toxic to your pet.
Say no to mac and cheese
While pasta is generally safe for pets to eat, cheese can cause issues; most cats are lactose intolerant and some dogs suffer gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, when they consume dairy products. This means that mac and cheese isn't a great leftover for pets. (If you have plain pasta left over, however, go for it).
Say yes to potatoes
Potatoes, including sweet potatoes, are totally fine for your pets, as long as they do not contain unsafe ingredients like roasted garlic or chives. Also, if you use a lot of butter or cream in your potatoes, known that this could make them do a number on your pet's digestive system, leading to upset stomach issues. If you know that you want to share some potatoes with your fur fam, the best option is to cook some separately for them that don't have any extra flavors or ingredients added, just to be extra safe.
Say no to alcohol
If you observe Lent, you might have given up alcohol for six long weeks and be looking forward to a glass of wine with your Easter feast. This one probably seems like a no-brainer, but cats and dogs have to adhere to a lifelong vow of abstinence from alcohol, which depresses their central nervous system and causes diminished coordination, vomiting, respiratory distress, tremors, coma, and even death.
Say no to caffeine
Another common Lent sacrifice is caffeine, but it's another substance you'll need to keep away from your pets—no matter how excited you are to indulge in your first cup of coffee in weeks. Caffeinated products contain methylxanthine, and even moderate consumption of caffeine can cause hyperactivity, tremors, elevated body temperature, abnormal heart rhythms, hypertension, seizures, collapse and death in pets.