8 May 2023

Celebrating Mother's Day with pets around? Here's what RSPCA ACT wants you to know

| Travis Radford
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a woman and a dog

RSPCA CEO Michelle Robertson (pictured) shares her suggestions for how to safely include your fur children in your Mother’s Day festivities. Photo: Supplied.

With Mother’s Day (Sunday 14 May) just around the corner, RSPCA ACT has issued some timely advice to avoid pet owners ending their day with a very expensive visit to the vet.

While flowers and chocolates may make a thoughtful gift for mum, RSPCA ACT CEO Michelle Robertson said they can be highly toxic to inquisitive puppies, kittens and other pets.

She said lilies, tulips and hydrangeas were just three examples of toxic flowers and urged anyone sending a bouquet to pet owners to check whether the blooms were suitable.

“Lilies are top of the [toxicity] list. Just try and stay away from them if you can,” she advised.

While dogs can suffer gastrointestinal issues from eating lilies, cats can have even more severe side effects from some varieties, including fatal kidney failure.

READ ALSO Female-led Canberran organisations partner to inspire hope this Mothers’ Day with joint charity luncheon

Pet Insurance Australia said there was a spike in claims relating to cats poisoned by lilies in May, suggesting Mother’s Day could be linked to the episodes.

The pet insurance company urged anyone who suspected their cat had ingested a lily or its water to seek veterinary assistance regardless of symptoms.

“Then the question is, ‘Well, what [flowers] do we get?'” Ms Robertson said.

“I don’t think any animal should necessarily eat a flower, so even if it is ‘safer,’ it still means there might be some issues.”

But she said with that caveat, roses, daisies, sunflowers, orchids and snapdragons were generally speaking ‘safer’ options for pet owners.

However, powdered flower food provided with many floral arrangements to keep the blooms fresh can make the water of these ‘safer’ flowers toxic.

When it comes to chocolates, Ms Robertson said there were no ‘safer’ options and that sugar-free options that use artificial sweeteners were also toxic to pets.

READ ALSO RSPCA’s Pets of the week – Pepper & Lucia

Ms Robertson said people who wanted to safely involve their dog in their Mother’s Day festivities could choose a dog-friendly cafe or holiday accommodation.

“Something that I thought is quite cute is even if you want to do a craft together,” she said.

“I’ve got plenty of little things that my kids brought from school when they were little, but I’ve never had my dog give me something.”

She suggested a method involving a small canvas with dog-friendly paint on it, which is placed inside of a ziplock bag with natural peanut butter on the outside.

With supervision to ensure the dog doesn’t bite the bag or lick any of the paint, your pet ‘paints’ their own artwork by licking the peanut butter on the outside of the bag.

Ms Robertson also urged people not to buy a pet as a Mother’s Day gift, especially with the current cost of living pressures, which RSPCA ACT has linked to an increase in surrenders.

“People tend to purchase small animals, so you’ll get a kitten or a puppy, and when people give up animals it’s not when they’re little anymore,” she said.

“It’s when they’re a few months in and your lounge suite for example starts getting destroyed or your juvenile dog is now starting to get a bit moody.”

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