Easter is a time for catch-ups with family and friends, welcoming spring into your home with brightly coloured flowers, searching for eggs and eating delicious roast dinners. Unfortunately, this can mean a house (and garden) full of temptation and dangers for your pets which you may not even be aware of. Read on to find out more! We’ll cover what to look out for, how to avoid it and what to do if it all goes wrong.  By following our simple tips you’ll be sure to enjoy your holiday whilst still keeping your furry family and friends safe and allowing you more time to hunt for that Easter Bunny (Note:  bunnies are for life, not just for Easter!).


What are the main culprits to avoid this Easter?


Chocolate (Easter eggs)

Chocolate contains theobromine which is a similar substance to caffeine.  The darker the chocolate, the higher the amount of theobromine as it’s related to cocoa content. When eaten at toxic levels, theobromine’s main effects are on the cardiovascular system (heart) and nervous system. Toxic levels are lower than you may think – if a 15 kg dog eats an average sized hollow milk chocolate Easter egg, it is classed as high risk of toxicity.

Signs usually occur between 4 to 24-hours after and can include irregular heart rate, vomiting and diarrhoea, hyper-excitability and seizures.


Sweets containing xylitol


Xylitol is a sweetener frequently used in sugar-free sweets, chewing gums, drinks and other household items.

Incredibly dangerous when eaten in even small amounts, xylitol can cause rapid release of insulin which can result in life-threatening low-blood sugar, coma, liver failure and death. Symptoms can be seen within 1 hour of it being eaten but, with prompt and intensive treatment, the outcome can be positive.


Raisins, grapes and sultanas (hot cross buns)


Raisins, grapes and sultanas are referred to as ‘nephrotoxic’ meaning that they damage the kidneys and can cause irreversible kidney failure.

Signs develop within 24-hours and can include vomiting, lethargy (lack of energy), abdominal pain, dehydration, drinking and weeing more and smelly breath.

Save those yummy hot cross buns and simnel cake for the two-legged family members only!


URGENT – Cats and dogs

All parts of the lily are poisonous (petals, stem, pollen, even the water they have been in) and cause severe kidney damage (progressing to failure) in cats.  In dogs, they tend not to cause kidney damage but will cause gastrointestinal signs.

In cats, signs are often not seen for 24 to 48-hours after ingestion which can delay the onset of treatment and result in a poorer outcome. Very intensive treatment is required as soon as possible.

We recommend not having lilies in your house (or garden!) at all if you have cats. If you notice any orange/yellow pollen on your cat’s fur do not allow them to lick it off and call us for advice immediately.


Daffodils, tulips and other bulbs

CARE – Dogs and cats

These contain alkaloids which cause gastrointestinal upsets, i.e. vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, abdominal pain. A severe upset like this can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances which can progress to heart and breathing issues.


Other potential ‘snacks’

URGENT -Cats, dogs, rabbits and other pets

Easter egg wrappers, foil, packaging and toys are all potential items which can cause a blockage in your pet’s intestines if they are eaten. Make sure that these are disposed of safely and not left lying around. Gastrointestinal blockages are very serious; they can require surgery, and in some cases, may even result in the death of your pet.

We love a good Easter egg hunt but make sure your search team collect all their eggs, and your pets don’t try and ‘help’ with the searching. Make a note of where eggs are hidden as any forgotten about may become a tempting little snack that results in a visit to the vets.


The Easter Sunday roast

These leftovers can often be too rich and high in fat for our pets. This can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and in more serious cases can result in pancreatitis – painful inflammation of the pancreas which can be tricky to treat.


Keep stress to a minimum (for you and your pet!)

Remember that family get-togethers can be stressful for our pets – ensure that they have space to get away from the hustle and bustle for a little quiet time if they wish. For cats in particular, ensure that they have access to a clean litter tray in a private area to help avoid stress cystitis or other behaviours. If you would like to speak about other ways to help combat stressful periods, please arrange an appointment with one of our registered veterinary nurses.


What to do:

In many cases, we may need to make your pet sick to remove any toxins that are still in the stomach, but this does depend on what was eaten and when. Most cases will require blood samples taking (which may need to be repeated), hospitalisation for medications and intravenous fluids (a drip). Treatment must be prompt and aggressive and can be costly in time, emotions and finances.

Being aware of potential risks and taking action to avoid them will hopefully ensure a peaceful holiday period! Our top tips are:

  • Safely store all potential toxic foods away from your dogs, remembering that some can – and will – open cupboards/rip open bags if they’re determined enough.
  • Keep toxic plants out of your house (and garden if you can).
  • Clear up any packaging/toys that may be tempting to chew or eat (especially if they smell like chocolate!).
  • Don’t be tempted to share the leftover roast with your pets.


So, you’ve followed all the advice, but your pet has still managed to get hold of something they shouldn’t have. Now, what do you do?


Please give our reception team a call as a matter of urgency. Time is of the essence in these cases and the sooner your pet is seen and treated the higher the chance of a positive outcome for both you and them. If your pet has eaten something that’s not on the list above but you are unsure whether it’s safe or not, please call us and our veterinary team will be happy to advise you.


All of the team here at Lime Trees Vets would like to wish you and your pets a very happy and safe Easter weekend.