Easter safety tips for kids, pets

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— For people who celebrate Easter with chocolate goodies and Easter egg hunts, here are a few tips to keep in mind to keep your children and pets safe.

The pets

• Keep chocolate bunnies out of reach as chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine, which if ingested by a dog, may cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, hyperactivity, tremors or even death. Dark chocolate has the highest concentration of theobromine but even a 20 ounce milk chocolate bunny may cause serious problems for a 10 pound dog. White chocolate does not contain theobromine but still contains a lot of sugar and fat which may cause stomach upset if ingested.

• Easter candies sweetened with xylitol may cause a drop in blood sugar, resulting in vomiting, weakness, depression, loss of coordination and seizures if ingested by dogs. If candy wrappers also are ingested, intestinal blockages may occur.

• Keep an eye out for spring flower mixes and bouquets. Many of spring-blooming plants are poisonous to all types of animals, including reptiles.

• Beware of plastic grass for stuffing Easter baskets. This filling is not digestible and can cause intestinal damage if consumed by your pets.

• Egg decorating supplies, including dyes, glitter, glue, paints and felt tip pens may be enticing to dogs and cause vomiting, diarrhea and general stomach upset if eaten. Choking and intestinal blockages may occur if your dog ingests the actual containers. Keep your dog and cat away from the craft table, clean up the table and floor after decorating and keep the colorful, finished eggs out of your dog's reach.

The kids

• Care should be used in choosing hiding places for Easter eggs. Make sure to avoid areas where the eggs might come into contact with pets, wild animals, birds, reptiles, insects or lawn chemicals.

• Do not eat eggs that have been out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours. Eggs are a potentially hazardous food, in the same category as meat, poultry, fish and milk. In other words, they are capable of supporting the rapid growth of disease-causing bacteria such as Salmonella.

• Before boiling eggs for Easter decorating/painting, they must be kept refrigerated. Hard-cooked Easter eggs left at room temperature longer than two hours or for a couple days as a decoration or table centerpiece should be discarded and not eaten. Make sure they are kept out of reach of children and that all family members know they are for decoration purposes only.

• Dye only clean, unbroken eggs. Discard broken eggs.

• For instructions on how to hard-cook eggs, visit the American Egg Board Web site at www.aeb.org/Recipes/BasicPreparation/Hard-CookedEggs.htm. (Increase cooking time by about 5 minutes to accommodate for high elevation.)

• Hard-cooked eggs should be consumed within 1 week, whether at Easter time or not.

• Cleanliness of hands, utensils and work surfaces is essential in preventing spread of bacteria. Always wash your hands when handling your eggs, especially between cooking, cooling and dyeing. Refrigerate eggs after coloring until they are to be hidden.

For more information, contact Elisa Shackelton at the CSU Moffat County Extension Office, 539 Barclay Street, 824-9180.

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