Easter Dangers For Your Pet


This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Carla Paszkowski, BVSc (Hons) and last updated by Dr Belinda Stancombe

Easter is upon us! It's time to get excited about all those delicious Easter treats about to come our way. Even if you're not religiously inclined, you'd be hard pressed to find an Aussie who doesn't love cracking the chocolate ears off a bunny and biting into a warm, bakery-fresh hot cross bun.

As harmless as Easter treats may be for us (except for your waistline!), the same can't be said for our pets. Some Easter treats can pose a risk to our dogs and cats and may even be fatal.

Our Vets have listed the top Easter dangers for your pet and what to do in an emergency. We have also included some Easter treats for your furry friend to indulge in safely this holiday season, because don't they deserve a visit from the Easter bunny too!


Easter Dangers

1. Chocolate

Chocolate is poisonous to dogs and cats because it contain theobromine and caffeine. Unlike humans, cats and dogs are unable to metabolise these compounds and therefore become sensitive to the effects.

Signs of Chocolate Toxicity

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Hyperactivity
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Death in severe cases

The darker the chocolate, the higher the toxicity

There are many levels of chocolate dilution: white, milk, dark milk, dark, bitter black, etc. Generally, the darker the chocolate, the higher the cocoa content, which means the more theobromine and caffeine there is.

White chocolate contains a very low concentration of theobromine (0.1mg/kg), and usually only poses a risk due to its high fat content. Milk chocolate contains 2mg per gram of theobromine, and dark chocolate contains around 15 mg per gram. A lethal dose of theobromine is reported to be 100-500 mg/kg of bodyweight in dogs.

In order to calculate whether your dog or cat has ingested a toxic level of theobromine, you will need to know their weight, the darkness of the chocolate, and how many grams were likely consumed. If it is not clear how much chocolate was actually consumed, the largest possible amount should be determined based on how much chocolate is missing.


Calculator provided by PetCare Pet Insurance

What you should do if your pet accidentally eats chocolate?

  • Do a quick calculation with a chocolate toxicity calculator. This will help you determine the level of risk and therefore urgency. Please note that if your dog or cat is showing symptoms, the first step should be to get your pet to a vet right away.

  • If your dog or cat has only just eaten the chocolate within an hour or two, it may be possible to induce vomiting. Your veterinarian will be able to induce vomiting with medication. You should not try to do this at home.

  • If your dog or cat ingested the chocolate more than a few hours prior, AND it is a toxic dose, hospitalisation and support are needed. It can take up to four days for the theobromine to work its way out of your pet's system. This means that your dog or cat may exhibit signs for a few days after ingestion, and ongoing hospitalisation may be required.

2. Hot Cross Buns

The risk of toxicity from hot cross buns, comes from the consumption of sultanas and raisins.

Often found in traditional hot cross buns, ingestion of grapes and their dehydrated versions can cause irreversible kidney failure in cats and dogs.

The exact mechanism of this is unknown, so it is impossible to calculate a universal toxic dose. For this reason, if your pet consumes any grapes, sultanas, or raisins it is recommended to see a veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian may induce vomiting to decrease the toxic effects, but hospitalisation, intravenous fluids and supportive care may be required to help protect your pet's kidneys.

3. Easter Lilies

Easter Lilies (Lilium longiflorum) are a traditional symbol during the Easter holiday period as they represent purity and innocence. Easter lilies are often given as gifts around Easter, either as potted plants or in flower arrangements.

As with all lily species, Easter lilies are highly toxic to cats, with the consumption of any part of the plant, including the leaves, stem, flower, pollen or even the water from a vase, resulting in fatal kidney failure. If you have a cat at home, it is best to avoid lilies completely, but if your cat does come into contact with a lily flower they should see a veterinarian immediately!

Lilies are very common in flower arrangements, so if you are giving a gift to a friend with cats, ensure it does not contain any lilies.

4. Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are highly poisonous to cats and dogs, and can be found in boutique chocolate slabs at Easter time.

While the exact cause of the toxicosis is unknown, signs of macadamia nut poisoning include an inability to walk or stand, wobbly gait, tremors, hyperthermia, and vomiting.

If encased in their shell, they can also pose a risk as a gastrointestinal foreign body. It is import to see your veterinarian if your pet consumes any part of the macadamia nut.

Pet Safe Treats

Easter is a fun time filled with indulging and family, so why should our pets miss out! There are a range of easter themed toys, and pet-safe treats to spoil and delight your fur baby. After all, why should they be the only family member to miss out on a visit from the Easter bunny!

Easter Gift Recommendations For Dogs:

Easter Gift Recommendations For Cats:

Further Reading

How To Tell If Your Cat Loves You

How To Tell If Your Dog Loves You

How To Calm An Anxious Pet

The Real Cost of Supermarket Food

Your Guide to Fleas, Ticks and Worms

Shop All Dog & Cat Products