Easter dangers for pets

Easter can be bad for pets!

Eastertime can pose dangers for our pets that we may not be immediately aware of - so many goodies lying around:  Easter Eggs, Hot Cross Buns, cake, chocolates. The smell is enticing - maybe worth the risk of jumping up to the table or rummaging in someone's bag?


easterChocolate contains theobromine (a stimulant similar to caffeine) which is toxic to dogs.

Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, becoming agitated and restless, a racing heart and arrhythmias, twitching, tremors and even seizures. These signs may become apparent between 4 and 24 hours after consuming chocolate.

Different types of chocolate contain differing amounts of theobromine. White chocolate has very little, milk chocolate up to 60 mg per oz, and dark or cooking chocolate up to 450mg per oz. Toxic doses of theobromine are reported as low as 20 mg per kg body weight. If your dog has consumed chocolate contact your vet ASAP. If there is a risk of toxicity the first thing your vet may do is make him vomit. It may be necessary to wash out his stomach, and then for him to be given charcoal by mouth to absorb any theobromine left in the gastro-intestinal tract. Other treatments will depend on signs and how long since consumption. They may include supportive IV fluid, monitoring, drugs to control heart rate or seizures.

Where attention is prompt, prognosis for dogs having eaten chocolate is usually good.


Another Easter danger lies in dried fruit (raisins and sultanas) and also grapes, which can cause acute kidney failure in dogs. It is not known why these fruits are so toxic. Dried fruits carry the higher risk because they are more concentrated than watery grapes. Consumption of a rich fruit cake is obviously more dangerous than a hot cross bun but again prompt veterinary advice/ attention is the best chance of avoiding serious illness. 

Symptoms develop over 1-2 days, including lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and increased thirst.

The sooner after consumption a dog can be treated the better his chances of survival.


Cats should not be forgotten at Easter. They are also at risk of chocolate toxicity, but tend not to be attracted to eating it in the same way as dogs are. Do take care with lovely flower arrangements however. Many Lily species are very toxic to cats including Easter lilies, Day lilies, Tiger lilies etc. It can only take chewing on a leaf while climbing on the windowsill, or grooming pollen from her coat to cause acute kidney failure.

If you suspect your cat has eaten some lily component seek urgent veterinary attention. Treatment again centres around either inducing vomiting or washing out stomach under anaesthetic, followed by IV fluid therapy for 1-2 days.

Take care to keep chocolate, cake and flowers out of reach of your pets and have a HAPPY EASTER!