Tips for a dog friendly Easter
A black and tan Dachshund sits next to a Happy Easter cushion, a basket of decorated eggs and an edible chocolate sausage dog!

Tips for a dog friendly Easter

Jo Bennett, My Family Pet Vet at Bridge Vet Centre in Wales, shares her top tips on making Easter time safe for our pooches…

“Easter is a fabulous time of year! It’s like Christmas but instead of presents, we get good weather (if we’re lucky!) The combination of chocolate and all the traits of spring can put our dogs at some risk though, so I’ll share with you my favourite tips for keeping them safe:

First off, chocolate is poisonous to dogs

Your furry friend will be in for a rough, maybe even fatal, time if they eat even the smallest amount of chocolate. Dark chocolate is worse because it has a higher cocoa content, but you should keep ALL TYPES of chocolate well away from your dogs… Easter eggs included.

Other poisonous Easter foods

A tad less common but no less dangerous, you should keep the following foods away from your dog’s reach and contact your local vet as soon as possible if they manage to ingest them (even the smallest amount):

  • Xylitol (an ingredient found in sugar-free treats like chewing gum, peanut butter, even some baked goods)
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Alcohol
  • Salt
  • Caffeine
  • Mouldy food (that your dog may have stolen from the bin)
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And of course, it’s not just food

Part of why we all love dogs is that they’re always excited and never stop exploring. Sadly, this can sometimes results in them doing damage to themselves. When your dog is out and about on a walk or even when having fun in the garden, keep an eye on these poisonous plants:

  • Lilies
  • Daffodils
  • Rhododendrons (including Azaleas)
  • Dumb cane (dieffenbachia – a common houseplant)
  • Ivy
  • Foxgloves
  • Mistletoe
  • Poinsettia
  • Chrysanthemums

As with toxic foods, your dog will need to see a vet as soon as possible if they ingest any of these.

Make your garden a suitable place for your dog

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If your dog often hangs out in the garden, it’s a good idea not to have any poisonous plants or flowers out there. As well as this, it’s very important to keep your lawn nice and tidy. Firstly, this reduces your dog’s chance of hurting themselves on a rock or dry soil. Secondly, tidy lawns are less appealing to parasites and stinging insects… and who wants those around if they can help it, right?

Is your dog suitable for the great outdoors?

It’s Spring now, whether the weather likes it or not! Now that you’re spending a lot of time outside with your dog, make sure the following are up to date:

  • Vaccines
  • Flea and worm treatments
  • Microchip details

If they aren’t, get yourself along to the vet as soon as you can!

And finally, keep your eyes open

Bear in mind at all times that dogs will be dogs. They won’t distinguish a bottle of cleaning product, left behind on the kitchen floor after a spring clean, from a perfectly harmless toy. They may feel thirsty when pelting along at full speed during the midday heat, but it’s not in their power to choose the cooler times of day to go out for a walk, or to provide their own water. They might love your friends and family as much as you do, but may long for their own space after a little while.

Whatever your plans are during the Easter break, don’t forget to factor in your dog – their welfare, their comfort and of course, their happiness! But I wish you a great time!”

Easter is a time of year that lots of us look forward to. Spring is in the air and there’s normally plenty of indulgent food in the fridge. However, foods that are a treat for us can be really dangerous for dogs.

We’ve spoken to Kathleen Pohl, a veterinary surgeon at Zetland Road, a My Family Vets practice, to put together a handy list of Easter foods and flowers that are toxic for dogs.

Kathleen Pohl from Zetland Vets

Easter Eggs

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Let’s start with the main offender. Naturally, Easter eggs are everywhere at Easter and they’re all made of chocolate, which contains a chemical called theobromine that is toxic to dogs. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and in very serious cases, even death

Theobromine is found in cocoa, so the darker the chocolate, the more harmful it is to dogs. You might have heard that it’s ok to give your dog white chocolate, and although it doesn’t contain enough theobromine to cause symptoms, it does still have a high sugar content and can cause stomach upsets.

So if you have got Easter eggs or other sweet treats laying around your house, make sure to keep an eye on your dog, because if they eat chocolate there could be serious consequences.

Hot cross buns

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There are many different types of hot cross buns these days, but the vast majority of them contain dried fruit such as raisins, sultanas and currants, which are toxic to dogs.

These dried fruits can cause acute kidney injury in dogs, however, the reason behind this is not fully understood. Some dogs can eat fairly large quantities of these types of dried fruit without experiencing symptoms, whereas, for other dogs only a handful of raisins can be fatal.

It can be the case that the toxic effects of ingesting raisins, currants and sultanas may not be apparent in dogs for several days. The longer the fruit is in your dog’s system, the more damage it can do.

As there aren’t guidelines on how much fruit your dog needs to consume for it to be dangerous, if you suspect that your dog has eaten any raisins, currants or sultanas, call your vet immediately.

Sugar-free sweets

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Lots of sugar-free sweets contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. If your dog eats sugar-free sweets, their blood sugar levels could drop to dangerously low levels, which can cause liver damage and can potentially be fatal.

It’s a good idea to steer clear of giving your dog any sweets, even if they don’t contain xylitol. Consuming lots of sugar can lead to weight gain as well as dental issues for your dog.

Cooked Bones

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It can be tempting to give your dog a treat after you’ve finished your Sunday roast. Although bones aren’t poisonous to dogs, they can split and break up into fragments when your dog chews them. This can cause pieces of bone to get lodged in your dog’s throat, which can lead to choking.

Garlic & onions

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Although garlic does a lot of great work when it comes to bringing a fresh spring flavour to roast lamb, unfortunately it’s toxic for dogs. Garlic causes upset stomachs and can damage your dog’s red blood cells.

It’s the same story for onions, so make sure to be extra careful when you’re preparing food in the kitchen.

Synthetic Easter grass

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You might have seen this stuff lining Easter hampers and baskets, it looks great but can be potentially dangerous for dogs. Colourful synthetic easter grass is non-digestible and can easily get stuck in your dog’s intestine, which could require surgery to remove.


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Daffodils are everywhere in spring, they are commonly found in fields, woodlands and most supermarkets. Daffodil flowers and bulbs are poisonous to dogs and can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Your dog can get sick just by drinking water from a vase that has had daffodils in.


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These colourful flowers are another one to watch out for this spring. Tulips can irritate your dog’s mouth and can also lead to heart problems and difficulty breathing. The bulb is the most dangerous part of the plant for dog’s, and if you suspect that your dog has eaten a tulip bulb contact your vet immediately.

Cherry trees

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Cherry trees pose all sorts of problems for dogs. The seeds, twigs and leaves of the cherry tree can cause hyperventilation, seizures, abnormal heart rate and in extreme cases, even death.

What to do if your dog eats dangerous items this Easter

If you suspect that your dog has eaten anything that is toxic, firstly you should stop them from eating any more of the dangerous item, then you should call your vet. If possible, preserve the packaging so that your vet can see exactly what your dog has eaten.

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