information on chocolate, hot cross buns and spring bulbs has been
taken from our free Information Guide, Common Canine Poisons in the
House and Garden. To find out about other everyday items that could
be harmful to your dog, please click here (PDF) or on
the image on the right hand side.
Chocolate poisoning is particularly common at this time of year,
especially with the large amounts of Easter eggs that may be around
your home. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which
can be poisonous to dogs, as well as most other animals, including
cats, rodents and rabbits.
How much is too much chocolate?
The seriousness of the poisoning will depend on the amount, type
and quality of the chocolate eaten. Generally speaking, the
darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains, and
therefore the more poisonous it is. White chocolate contains very
little theobromine and although it is unlikely to cause theobromine
poisoning, it is still very fatty and can make your dog ill.
What signs can it cause?
As well as possibly causing vomiting and diarrhoea, chocolate is
a stimulant, so it can cause excitement, muscle twitching, tremors,
fitting and can increase the heart rate and blood pressure.
Hot cross buns
Grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas are all toxic to dogs and
it is believed the dried forms of these fruits are more toxic than
grapes. At this time of year, it is therefore important that
hot cross buns are kept well away from your dogs.
How much is too much?
It is not known why these fruits are toxic to dogs, or how much
can be poisonous. Some dogs have eaten large quantities of
this fruit and had no effects, while others have become unwell
after very small amounts.
What signs can it cause?
As well as possibly causing stomach problems, these fruits can
cause kidney failure, which can sometimes be delayed by up to three
days. Kidney failure may sometimes present as a decrease in
urination, or your dog may also appear dull and show signs of
Prompt treatment is important. If your dog does eat any amount,
contact your veterinarian immediately.
Incidents of poisoning from spring bulbs are most likely to
occur from dogs eating the bulbs in autumn when they are planted,
or in spring when they begin to flower.
Effects from poisoning can include vomiting, stomach upset and
salivation, but can escalate to dogs appearing sleepy, wobbly on
their legs, or collapsing. In more serious cases fits and changes
to heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure may occur. Dogs
can also become unwell if the flowers are eaten, or if water from a
vase containing daffodils is drunk.
The toxins found in this plant cause irritation to the mouth and
gastrointestinal tract and usually only result in drooling,
vomiting and diarrhoea. Serious cases are rare, but effects could
include heart problems and breathing difficulties.
These flower in spring and are said to be of low toxicity and
may only cause a mild stomach upset if eaten. These bulbs are not
to be confused with autumn crocus, which flower in autumn and can
cause severe stomach upset, kidney and liver problems and bone
What to do if you suspect your dog has been poisoned
If you think that your dog may have eaten, touched or inhaled
something that it shouldn't have, consult your local veterinary
Do not try to make your dog sick. Trying to do this can cause
other complications, which may harm your dog.
In an emergency you can help your veterinary practice make an
informed decision as to whether your dog needs to be treated by
them, and if so, what the best treatment would be.
Where possible you should provide your veterinary practice with
- What poison you think your dog has been exposed to (i.e.
chocolate, ibuprofen, etc.). Include any product names, or lists of
ingredients if relevant
- How much they may have been exposed to (i.e. 500mg, 500ml, one
tablet etc., even approximations may help)
- When your dog was exposed to the poison (i.e. 5 minutes, 5
hours or 5 days ago)
- If your dog has been unwell, and if so, what clinical effects
have been seen
It is easier for a veterinarian to care for a poisoned dog if it
is treated sooner rather than later. If you are in any doubt, do
not wait for your dog to become unwell before calling for
If you do need to take your dog to your veterinary practice,
make sure that you take along any relevant packaging, or a sample
of the poison, i.e. parts of plant or fungi. Always make sure that
you yourself are protected and cannot be poisoned in turn.
Where can I find out more about substances poisonous to my
To find out about other everyday items found in and around your
home that could harm your dog, please visit our Common Canine
Poisons in the House and Garden Information Guide by clicking