Hospital for Small Animals

Easter pet advice from the Dick Vet

Easter is a fun time of year filled with spending time with family and pets, warm spring weather, Easter egg hunts and of course chocolate!

Easter bunny behind a banner that reads Happy Easter

But for our pets there are lots of hazards around which could turn a lovely day into an emergency trip to the vet. To help prevent this we have outlined some things to look out here. If you have any concerns then always speak to your local vet, who’ll be happy to help. 



Chocolate can make dogs very poorly and can even be fatal. This is due to a toxin called theobromine, a chemical found in the plants used in chocolate manufacture. Humans are able to break down theobromine quickly enough for it not to act as a poison. However, dogs metabolise the chemical much slower, meaning it can have detrimental effects.  Symptoms of theobromine poisoning include muscle stiffness, tremors, vomiting, heart arrhythmias and fitting. The poison can take between 4 - 24hrs for signs to appear.  Although chocolate is also bad for cats and rabbits, they’re less likely to eat it as they can’t taste the sweetness. 


Some sweets contain a substance called xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener. It’s very harmful to dogs and even a small amount can be toxic to them. If your dog manages to grab some sweets, watch out for these symptoms: vomiting, lethargy, lack of coordination and seizures.  

Easter Baskets

Easter baskets are a lovely gift idea and are great for kids as you can put small toys and other treats in there. Unfortunately, problems happen when pets want to get involved in the fun too! Small toys and filler material like straw and plastic grass (very appealing to cats as it’s fun to play with!) are easily swallowed by pets. This is likely to cause digestive obstruction, which can lead to expensive surgery! Symptoms of digestive obstruction include persistent vomiting, bloating, weight loss, weakness and dehydration.  

Hot Cross Buns

We all love a hot cross bun over Easter, especially smothered in butter! However, this is also a treat that we can’t share with our fluffy members of the family. This is because they contain raisins and other dried fruits, which cause kidney failure in both dogs and cats. Kidney failure classically causes increased thirst and urination; however, symptoms are usually seen weeks later when the secondary effects of reduced kidney function kick in. In the days following ingestion there are usually no clinical signs at all. 

Roast Dinners

A tasty roast dinner is one of the best parts of Easter Sunday (not including the chocolate of course!). It may be tempting to share some of your roast with your pet; they’re part of the family too, right? But regularly giving them scraps of fatty roast pork or ham can allow for a whole host of problems, such as bloating, abdominal pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, dehydration, fever and in more serious cases pancreatitis. So if you want to treat your pet at dinner time, a couple of their favourite pet treats will be a much healthier option - we promise they’ll enjoy them just as much! 



Easter lilies (along with many other types of lily) are often gifted around Easter time, and although they help to brighten the house up, they’re extremely toxic to cats.  Every part of the lily is dangerous; this even includes the water it’s sitting in! It causes kidney failure and can be fatal if treatment isn’t given quickly. Some of the signs your cat may be suffering from lily poisoning are as follows: dehydration, extreme thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures and even death. 

Our advice to all you cat owners out there would be to avoid having lilies in the house altogether. Of course, we know friends and family like to give them as gifts, but sometimes it’s better to just politely decline. We’re sure they’d understand that you want to keep your moggy friend safe. You know what they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry! 


You know it’s spring when the daffodils start popping up! Unfortunately, they’re poisonous to dogs if they decide to take a chomp out of one! Dogs can suffer from vomiting, lethargy and even fits if they eat the bulb, flower or if you pick some for the house, even the water they sit in. 


Another pretty bulb plant which doesn’t do pets any good! The exposed bulb is the most dangerous part if your pet eats it, but they can suffer from drooling, tummy pain, vomiting and sometimes breathing issues and sudden drops in blood pressure if they eat any part of the plant. 


The beautiful, bright coloured tulip is lovely, but it can irritate your dog’s mouth and their gastrointestinal tract. If eaten, it can also cause drooling, diarrhoea and vomiting. Other, more severe, symptoms also include difficulty breathing and heart problems. 


If you need to speak to the Hospital about any concerns you have about you pet's health, please get in touch


About the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies 

The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence in clinical activity, teaching and research. Our purpose-built campus, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park, is home to more than eight hundred staff and almost fourteen hundred students, all of whom contribute to our exceptional community ethos. 

The School comprises: 

The Roslin Institute 

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems 

The Roslin Innovation Centre 

The Hospital for Small Animals 

Equine Veterinary Services 

Farm Animal Services 

Easter Bush Pathology 

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education 

We represent the largest concentration of animal science-related expertise in Europe, impacting local, regional, national and international communities in terms of economic growth, the provision of clinical services and the advancement of scientific knowledge.