Springtime Dangers

Written by: Alison Laurie, Senior Consultant, Crown Vets Inverness

Easter and Springtime are only around the corner, sadly with these come associated, additional dangers for our animals that we as pet owners need to be made more aware of at this time of year.

Chocolate Easter eggs:

Chocolate contains a potent stimulant substance called theobromine which is extremely toxic to dogs, and cats! Theobromine poisoning affects the patient’s heart, nervous system and kidneys.

Chocolate toxicity can cause extremely distressing gastrointestinal symptoms of vomiting and profuse bloody diarrhoea, also common are: restlessness and hyperactivity, rapid breathing, tense muscles, incoordination, twitching, increased rapid heart rate and seizures.

The degree of toxicity caused varies very much on the amount of Chocolate cocoa solids consumed. The amount of toxic theobromine consumed varies with the type of chocolate ingested. The darker bitter Chocolate and Baking Chocolate contain higher concentrations of the toxic theobromine, dark Chocolate contains about 130-450mg/ounce of theobromine, Milk Chocolate contains 44-50mg/ounce. Toxic doses can be low, so it is very important to call your vets if your dog eats any chocolate so that they can ascertain whether they have ingested a concerning toxic dose.

Treatment depends on the degree of toxicity, usually we have to make the dog vomit up the chocolate and give a treatment to limit any further absorption of the theobromine.


Daffodils – Daffodils contain a substance called lycorine which causes vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain due to tissue irritation on ingestion of the bulbs, plants or flowers.

Cyclamen – Cyclamen contain a substance called saponins, especially in the plant roots, which when chewed or ingested by dogs or cats will cause excessive drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Easter Lilies – Lilies are incredibly toxic to catsAny part of a lily is toxic to a cat if ingested also the lily pollen is toxic if they even brush against them. Lilies cause severe acute kidney failure in cats, so immediate veterinary attention is vital if you think your cat might have ingested lilies. Signs of lily toxicity include lethargy, not eating, drooling, vomiting and depression. As a cat owner it is important not to have lilies in your house or garden at all, to avoid any risk of toxicity.

Hyacinths and Tulips – toxic substances called alkaloids are concentrated in the hyacinth and tulip bulbs, and when ingested can cause irritation to the mouth and the oesophagus. Signs include excessive drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Bluebells – ALL parts of the bluebell plant are toxic – they cause abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and also disruptions in the rhythm of the heart.

Raisins – In Hot Cross Buns:

Hot Cross Buns are abundant at Easter time; however any foods containing grapes, currents, sultanas or raisins are toxic to dogs. It is important to seek veterinary treatment if your dog eats anything containing these ingredients. Toxicity can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, bloody stools, reduced appetite, weakness, lethargy and acute kidney failure.

Treatment usually involves making the dog vomit as soon as possible after ingestion and additional treatments to avoid further toxic absorption.

For a Happy Springtime without any worries or mishaps, do be aware of these potential Spring/Easter hazards for your pets.   

So keep Chocolate, Chocolate Easter treats and Chocolate Easter Eggs out of your pet's reach and also do not feed or allow access to any foods containing grapes, sultanas, currants or raisins.  

Also be aware of all of the above plants and bulbs that can be toxic to your pets if they are ingested, and with regards to Lilies always keep these well out of any cats reach.