It’s nearly that time of year – multiple public holidays, Easter egg hunts, and time to spend with family and friends. Easter is just around the corner, but as always we’d like to remind everyone that there are a few hazards that  pop up at this time of the year for our furry friends.


Almost everyone knows that chocolate is dangerous for dogs (and cats, though cats can’t taste sugar and are more likely to ignore the Easter stash). Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine that we can digest but dogs can’t, and it can cause serious illness.

If you spot your dog eating chocolate, call your vet straight away. Though it does depend on the amount of chocolate eaten (dark chocolate is more toxic than milk chocolate, and white chocolate is barely toxic at all), it is much better to make your dog throw that chocolate up than to wait and worry at home. Even if your dog hasn’t eaten a toxic amount of chocolate the sugar and fat in chocolate can cause a nasty tummy upset.

By the time signs of chocolate poisoning occur it’s usually too late to make the dog throw up, so we need to support your dog with fluids and medication until they feel better. Chocolate does not have direct antidote, so it’s better out than in!

Signs your dog has chocolate poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Hyperactivity
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors and rigidity


Hot Cross Buns

It’s not the buns themselves that are toxic, it’s the raisins and currants they contain that are the problem. Grapes and grape products such as sultanas and raisins are known to be toxic to dogs, but how and why they’re so dangerous isn’t very well understood. Some dogs have no reaction to grapes, and in others a single sultana can be deadly.

There’s no minimum toxic amount of grapes for dogs – so if your dog has eaten a sultana, we have to assume it’s toxic and treat them aggressively. As with chocolate it’s best if we can make your dog throw up and remove the sultanas from their system.

Grape toxicity affects the kidneys, and can cause total renal failure and death if untreated. We don’t have a direct antidote, and treatment of grape toxicity can involve several days of fluids to flush the kidneys and supportive medications.

Signs to look out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lack of urination (anuria)
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Abdominal pain


Easter Lilies

All lilies are very toxic to cats, and the beautiful flowers that appear in stores at this time of year are no exception. Just like with grape toxicity in dogs, we’re not sure why lilies are toxic to cats. We do know that every part of the lily (including stems, leaves, petals and pollen) is toxic, and can cause catastrophic kidney damage.

Ingesting even a tiny bit of pollen (such as grooming a little off a paw) can cause poisoning in cats so it’s best to avoid having them in the house if you have a cat. We don’t have an antidote for lily poisoning, and cats are much harder to make throw up than dogs. If a cat is suspected of having come into contact with lilies we usually start supportive treatment to flush out their kidneys straight away.

Signs to look out for include:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Increased urination or total lack of urination
  • Appetite loss
  • Dehydration

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