So spring is apparently upon us, and with the lengthening daylight hours, and increasing temperatures comes the first of the spring bank holidays to be celebrated.
Easter is a wonderful time of year with spring flowers starting to bloom, chocolate and large bouquets of flowers being gifted. However, with the changing season, comes new toxins, as well as some of the old favourites.
- The age-old toxin that is Chocolate. It is incredibly toxic to our pets especially with increasing cocoa content (%). The active ingredient – Theobromine – even in small doses can cause severe gastrointestinal upsets. These can progress into muscle tremors and even seizures at increasing doses. A general rule is to prevent contact with chocolate for all of our pets. As there is no specific antidote, we have to treat these as emergencies. Treatment is generally supportive and trying to prevent the absorption of chocolate into the body.
- Daffodils (Narcissus spp.) are toxic to both dogs and cats. The whole plant is toxic, but especially the bulbs. Symptoms are seen to be gastrointestinal upsets, lethargy, hypersalivation (drooling), breathing irregularities, and seizures. Even the water in which the stems have been resting is toxic.
- Easter Lilies (Lilium longiflorum), as well as all other lily species (including peace lilies), are toxic to cats. The WHOLE plant including the stamen and pollen can cause irreversible damage to their kidneys, and in severe circumstances – acute kidney failure. If you have any flower displays containing lilies or receive them as a gift, please make sure at the very least your pets have no access to them and if possible remove them from your home.
- Easter Cake / Hot Cross Buns both contain dried fruits. The main toxic protagonist in these are the raisins, currants or sultanas. These are all toxic to our pets, causing severe damage very quickly to the kidneys, potentially leading to acute renal failure. There doesn’t seem to be any correlation between amount ingested and toxicity, so any ingestion is treated as an emergency.
- Spring bulbs – If you are given a collection of spring bulbs, please ensure your pets have no access to them. If ingested, they can cause severe gastrointestinal issues from vomiting and diarrhoea to wobbliness and disorientation. Tulips are one in particular which can cause oral irritation and ulceration but can also cause breathing difficulties and in rarer cases have toxic effects on the heart.
- Easter Wrappings – Often overlooked, but the general packaging and fillers associated with Easter baskets and eggs. Foil and other wrappings cannot be digested by the stomach acid, therefore, causing irritating to the inner lining of the guts as they transit through the system. In a worst-case scenario, these packaging materials have been seen to obstruct the intestines, leading to life-threatening situations requiring surgery.
These are just a few potential toxins to be found at this time of year. If your pet comes into contact with any of these or anything else which you are not sure about over the Easter celebration please, do not hesitate to call your local Pennard Vets practice, where there will be a vet on call 24 hours a day to assist with any queries or concerns.