Safety for Pets from Spring Poisons

Date: 19 Mar 2019

Easter Foods

As we enter Spring and all the joy it brings, it's important to remember our furry friends and ensure we keep them safe from possible poisons throughout this period. Should you suspect your pet has ingested anything poisonous then contact your veterinary surgeon immediately. You can also call the Animal Poison Line on 01202 50 90 00 (charges apply).

As Easter approaches don't forget that some foods we love to enjoy may be poisonous for our pets. Theobromine is a toxic ingredient found in chocolate; the darker the chocolate the greater the risk. Chocolate poisoning can affect dogs, cats, rabbits and pet birds. Ingestion could lead to sickness, diarrhoea, dehydration, internal bleeding and, in severe cases, even death. Lots of Easter goodies such as hot cross buns, fruit loaves and cakes, contain raisins and sultanas. These can cause kidney failure in dogs so must be avoided.

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used in sweets, cakes and toothpaste. For dogs an excess of xylitol can prove fatal because it kick- starts a rapid release of the hormone insulin. Too much insulin affects the amount of glucose (sugar) in your dog's blood, which, in turn, could cause seizures and affect your pet's liver. The symptoms of xylitol poisoning include weakness, vomiting and a lack of co-ordination. Cats and rabbits may also be affected.


As the spring weather approaches many of us prepare to spruce up our gardens. Just remember, some of the products we use to help our gardens flourish can be poisonous to our dogs, cats and rabbits.

Metaldehyde-based slug pellets can cause the most dangerous poisonings. Even small amounts of pellet can cause significant poisoning with severe signs, including incoordination, tremors and convulsions, and muscle spasms within an hour of consumption. Signs to look out for: sickness and diarrhoea, drooling, anxiety, tremors, convulsions.

Fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides containing organophosphates can produce life-threatening effects, even in small amounts, so it’s best to read the label and avoid them when possible. While most are not very toxic (resulting in minor gastrointestinal irritation), some fertilizers can be fatal without treatment.

Glyphoshate is another common ingredient seen in weed killers and can be irritant to the skin and stomach if consumed. These can affect dogs, cats and rabbits.


Be careful when planting spring and summer bulbs; they may look beautiful but can have serious consequences for our pets. Common flowers found in the garden such as daffodils, hyacinths and tulips can be poisonous for cats, dogs and rabbits. The most toxic part of these plants is in the bulb and, when ingested, can result in tissue irritation to the mouth and oesophagus, profuse drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea. Large ingestions may cause an increase in heart rate, difficulty breathing, tremors and convulsions.

The yellow flowers in daffodils contain a poisonous alkaloid that can cause vomiting and diarrhoea and symptoms can develop within 15 minutes of ingestion.

Different species of lilies are more dangerous to certain animals. For example, Lily of the Valley is highly poisonous to dogs and rabbits and lilies commonly known as Tiger, Day, Easter or Japanese show Lilies are poisonous to cats. Lilies contain a toxin that makes eating even the smallest amount of any part of the plant extremely dangerous; just licking the pollen off their coat or drinking the water from a vase can cause grave illness. Once ingested, the toxin causes severe damage to the kidneys, which can cause the kidneys to fail and even result in death. Signs of lily poisoning can include, drooling, vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy and depression.

The leaves and berries produced by the various sub-species of ivy are all considered to be toxic to dogs, and cats too. Dogs are the more likely of the two species to try to eat ivy and doing so can lead to severe bouts of drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea. Contact with ivy can cause skin reactions, conjunctivitis, itchiness and skin rashes.

If you would like any further advice on our blog “Safety for pets from Spring Poisons” please contact the OSCAR Helpline on our freephone number 0800 195 8000 or email

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