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Toxicities spring brings for cats and dogs

Spring time brings bluer skies, warmer weather, Easter celebrations and in general good feelings that summer is finally on the way. It is important for pet owners to realise that spring can also bring dangers for our pets. Make sure you are prepared for these hazards and know what they are.


Many beautiful flowers growing in spring are poisonous for your pets. Bluebells are particularly dangerous, all parts of the plant are harmful when eaten and cause vomiting, abdominal pain and even heart beat irregularities.


All parts of a daffodil are toxic but the bulb is the most toxic part so make sure to keep your dogs and cats away from them. They contain a substance with strong vomiting properties. If eaten can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and even heart and breathing problems.

Tulips and Hyacinth

these contain allergenic toxic substances which are more concentrated in the bulbs. When chewed or ingested it can cause irritation within the mouth and oesophagus which leads to drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea. If a large quantity is eaten the heart rate and respiratory rate can increase and veterinary treatment should be sought.


Some types of lily can be very dangerous and even fatal if ingested. They are particularly toxic to cats. Any part of the lily is poisonous, a common occurrence is from the pollen as the cat brushes past it or walks through it and grooms it off and ingests it that way. Eating any of the plant is dangerous and can cause serious kidney failure, even drinking the water in the vase is dangerous. Even small ingestion can be life threatening. Immediate veterinary attention is required.

Slug and snail pellets

You should be very careful if you have dogs or cats in your garden and plan on using these pellets. They are designed to kill slugs and snails and in larger animals may not be immediately fatal but can be very harmful and in some cases fatal. Metaldehyde is the most toxic compound found in pellets and even after eating only a small quantity your pet can be in danger. Poisoning can trigger seizures, muscle spasms, tremors and twitching. Signs often occur within an hour. You should contact your vet immediately.


Most fertilisers are not particularly toxic and ingestion results in minor tummy upsets. Others have more serious consequences.

  • Blood meal can cause vomiting and diarrhoea and can importantly trigger severe pancreatitis. Some have added iron which can cause iron poisoning.

  • Bone meal is particularly attractive to dogs. If eaten it can form a hard ball in the stomach which can lead to a blockage needing surgical correction.

  • Rose fertiliser can contain organophosphates which can kill a dog in even small amounts.

Easter eggs

Chocolate ingestion is a a common one over the Easter period and can at times result in significant illness. As tempting and delicious as it is this really is one toxicity that warrants a call to your vets. Theobromine is a stimulant in chocolate that is toxic for dogs. The darker the chocolate the higher the concentration of this toxic substance. So chocolate toxicity severity is related to how dark the chocolate is, the amount the wee horror has gorged on and the weight of your beloved pet. If they have eaten a toxic quantity then it is likely you will be asked to head straight to the surgery and the sooner after ingestion the better.

Chocolate poisoning can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, thirst, restlessness, hyperactivity and elevated heart rate. Ingestion can then lead to pancreatitis and kidney failure.


Easter goodies like hot cross buns are full of raisins and currents. You need to be particularly careful about this one as it is not quantity ingested related and can cause kidney failure. One raisin or grape can potentially be as dangerous as many. There appears to be an individual sensitivity in dogs to the toxicity of these fruit and there is no way to predict which dog will be more or less sensitive. So if your dog gets its paws on these fruit, wether its one grape or a whole hot cross bun you should contact your vet immediately. If left untreated it can lead to kidney failure which i'm sure you can imagine can be incredibly serious.

Adder bites

The European adder is the only venomous snake in the UK. They are found on dry, sandy heaths and dunes, rocky hillsides, moorland and woodlands. Bites are most common in spring as they have just come out of hibernation. Bites cause swelling which can be severe, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, lethargy. Your pet may collapse due to blood clotting problems which can lead to convulsions.

Remember if you are worried that your pet may have been exposed to something toxic always contact your vet immediately. Many poisonings are time critical and the sooner your vet sees them the better.

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