Spring dangers

Cocker Spaniel sitting on a boat

After a winter indoors, spring brings cleaning and outdoor fun for many. But it also brings dangers for your dog: From Easter treats to encounters with toxic plants and other hazards, this page will explore the dangers that springtime can pose to your dog. 

If you are worried about your dogs health, or their behaviour has changed in any way, always contact your local vet for advice. 

Easter Treats

Easter brings joy and celebration, but it also brings potential dangers for our dogs. From chocolate poisoning to the toxicity of raisins and grapes commonly found in hot cross buns and Simnel cake, it's important to be vigilant. Learn more about Easter dangers for your dog here.  

Spring flowers

There are many different plants commonly found in gardens around the country that could make your dog ill.  Here are some specific effects on dogs associated with common spring bulbs in your garden: 


Effects from poisoning can include vomiting, stomach upset and dribbling, 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 only usually result in drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea. Serious cases are rare, but effects could include heart problems and breathing difficulties.

Spring crocus

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 marrow depression.

Find out more about poisonous plants.

If you are in any doubt about your dogs health, always contact your local vet for advice. 


Springtime is when ticks are most active and they can carry dangerous infectious diseases that can be passed on to both you and your dog.

Always check your dog for ticks after going for walks in the countryside. Thoroughly run your hand over your dog’s body checking for lumps or bumps (don’t forget to check inside their ears).

Ticks should be removed quickly and carefully, but if you’re unsure how to do this then you should always ask your vet for advice.

Never try to burn the ticks off or smother them in lotions or petroleum jelly, as this can increase the risk of being infected by the diseases ticks carry.

Find out more about ticks.

Spring cleaning

Cleaning products themselves may have unpleasant tastes, making them unappealing to dogs. However, their brightly coloured packaging or interesting shapes may attract curious pets, leading to potential ingestion or exposure. To ensure your dog's safety, it's essential to prevent access to cleaning products and keep dogs away from areas undergoing cleaning or recently cleaned.

Here are some tips to help keep your dog safe:

  • When using bleach in the toilet, remember to close the lid and bathroom door to prevent your dog from accessing it.
  • Oven cleaners and drain cleaners can be particularly harmful, so keep your dog out of the room while using these products.
  • If your dog consumes any cleaning products, avoid inducing vomiting. Their vomit may be frothy and foamy, posing a risk of aspiration into their lungs.

If you believe your dog has come in contact with any cleaning products- contact your local vet immediately. 

Find out more about the dangers of cleaning products.


During wet spring months, it's common to encounter a higher number of slugs and snails, all of which can carry the dangerous lungworm parasite. When your dog explores the outdoors by nosing through undergrowth, drinking from puddles, eating grass, or sniffing around, they may inadvertently ingest or lick slugs, snails, or their slime trails, increasing the risk of lungworm infection.

What are the signs of a lungworm infection?

Signs that your dog may be infected by lungworm include:

  • Coughing
  • Breathing problems
  • Tiredness
  • Taking a long time for cuts to clot
  • Changes in behaviour

If you’re concerned your dog has been infected speak to your vet immediately.

Find out more about lungworm.


The type and toxicity of chemicals used to kill plants vary dramatically. Most cases of poisoning occur from dogs that brush up against, chew or lick recently treated plants, or from dogs playing with or drinking from containers.

Clinical effects vary dramatically depending on the type of herbicide, but can include vomiting, dehydration, blood in the stools or in the vomit, ulcers in the mouth, breathing problems, heart problems, kidney and liver failure.

If you believe your dog has been in contact with weed killer, contact your local vet immediately. 

Dogs in hot cars

Dogs should never be left in the car unattended, even on a mildly warm day. Dogs can die this way, even if the car has been left in the shade and car windows are open. If you are travelling in the car with your dog for a long period of time, make sure you take the necessary precautions, such as:

  • Making plenty of stops,
  • Having lots of water and an appropriate shady space for your dog. 

Find out more about the dangers of hot cars.


These are the UK's only native poisonous snakes and are found in a wide range of habitats. Adders hibernate over winter and emerge in spring; this is the time when the likelihood of being bitten is highest. These snakes often bask in the sun and inquisitive dogs that stumble upon them are most often bitten around the face, muzzle and front paws.

Dogs that are bitten should be taken to a vet as soon as possible. It’s important that until you see the vet, the bite should be left alone. No tourniquets should be applied and you should not attempt to suck out the poison, as this may cause further complications.

If you see an adder in your garden, or when out for a walk, leave it alone. Adders are a protected species and it is illegal to harm or kill them.

Signs your dog has been bitten by an Adder

Signs that your dog has been bitten may appear quickly and can include:

  • Small puncture wounds
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Pain
  • Lameness
  • Dribbling
  • Being sick
  • Increased temperature
  • Bleeding
  • Changes to the heart beat, blood pressure and breathing rate

Slug bait

Slug baits, often found in pellet form, are highly appealing to dogs. While some types are considered relatively safe for mammals, many contain metaldehyde, the substance used to kill slugs, which is also highly toxic to dogs. Ingestion of metaldehyde can lead to symptoms such as tremors, twitching, and seizures lasting several days. To minimize risk, ensure slug pellets are scattered thinly in treated areas, rather than left in piles easily accessible to your dog.

If you suspect your dog has ingested slug bait, contact your local vet immediately and retain the packaging of the slug bait, as it may be necessary for your vet to use it to contact the manufacturer or a poisoning helpline to assist with your dog’s treatment

How to use this information

The information is intended to be used to prevent poisoning by raising awareness of certain poisons, rather than as a document to be used in an emergency. If you think that your dog has been poisoned, or has come into contact with potentially poisonous substances, contact your local veterinary practice immediately.

Think your dog may be affected?

If you're worried about your dog's health, always contact your vet immediately!

We are not a veterinary organisation and so we can't give veterinary advice, but if you're worried about any of the issues raised in this article, please contact your local vet practice for further information.

Find a vet near you

If you're looking for a vet practice near you, why not visit the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' Find a vet page.

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