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Top Four Easter Toxins

Four common toxicities we see in the ER during Easter are chocolate, candy, plastic grass, and Easter Lily flowers.


Most people know by now that chocolate is a no-no for our pets, but it bears repeating. Chocolate toxicity can range in severity depending on the type of chocolate (milk, dark, cocoa powder, etc). The toxin found in chocolate is called theobromine; it affects the neurological system, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal tract. Seizures, irregular heart rhythms, hyperexcitability, and an elevated heart rate are just a few of symptoms that can be seen when theobromine is ingested by dogs. Vomiting, diarrhea, and/or abdominal discomfort are common gastrointestinal signs. If your pet has ingested chocolate, please seek veterinary care immediately so the proper measures can be taken to ensure your pet is safe and healthy!


Some candies and sugarless gums contain xylitol – a sugar substitute. Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs and can cause liver failure. It is important to get veterinary attention as soon as possible if you suspect that your pet ingested any candy or gum containing xylitol.

Plastic grass

That fun, colored Easter grass in your Easter basket can be a serious problem for your pets. It may cause a gastrointestinal obstruction if ingested, which can be life-threatening. It is important to keep this out of your pet’s reach. Signs you may notice include drooling, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and/or refusal to eat.

Easter lilies

These flowers are extremely toxic to cats (leaves, stems, petals – all parts of the plant are all toxic!) A few bites of the leaves, a sniff of pollen, or a sip of water that lilies have been in can be life-threatening if not treated early. Easter lilies and all Asiatic lilies cause kidney failure in cats. Prompt veterinary care is imperative; the longer your pet goes without treatment, the poorer the prognosis.

Other lilies, such as Calla, Peace, and Peruvian flowers do not cause deadly kidney failure, but they can be mildly poisonous. They can cause irritation to the mouth because they contain crystals (oxalates). You may see drooling or repeated swallowing. If you do or you suspect a plant has been chewed, seek veterinary care immediately. It can be helpful to bring the plant along to show the veterinarian. Lily plants are not toxic to dogs, but can cause gastrointestinal upset (vomiting, diarrhea, refusal to eat).

Don’t leave those Easter Baskets unattended with your pet in the house so you can avoid a visit to your family vet or the ER!

By Chelsea Wolf, DVM


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