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Holiday treats can be deadly...

Easter eggs and hot cross buns may be yummy Easter indulgences for us, but they can be deadly to dogs so keep these seasonal treats to yourself. Here is some timely information from the Kennel Club to help you and your dog have a happy and healthy Easter and enjoy the spring.

The Kennel Club urges caution over Easter as new statistics reveal increase in hot cross bun poisoning in pets. New statistics* released on 26th March 2024 by The Kennel Club show that cases of grape and raisin poisoning in dogs were 117% higher than those of chocolate poisoning, during the Easter months in 2023. The fruits, which can be found in a number of Easter treats – such as hot cross buns and Simnel cake – are toxic to dogs, even in small amounts, and as such, the organisation is urging pet owners to keep these and chocolate well away from dogs over the coming weeks.

The data, collected by Kennel Club Pet Insurance provided by Agria, also revealed that while claims made for chocolate poisoning were up by a third (33%) during March and April last year, compared to the monthly average, the total number of cases during this period saw a 13% decrease compared to Easter 2022. Conversely, claims for grape and raisin intoxication showed an opposite trend, increasing by 12% compared to 2022, indicating that dog owners are less aware of how dangerous these foods are to our dogs.

Robin Hargreaves, Senior Veterinary Advisor for Agria Pet Insurance, commented, 'While many owners are aware of how toxic chocolate is to their pets, there are, in fact, a number of other foods that present a real danger to dogs over Easter, such as hot cross buns and Simnel cake. Raisins and grapes are poisonous to our pets and there are often no symptoms until the dog becomes very ill, very suddenly. Owners who think their pets have ingested any of these foods should contact their vet immediately.

'It is so important to be vigilant, especially at this time of year, and to keep all Easter treats far from reach, to not only prevent heartache, but avoid any unexpected vet fees over the bank holiday period.'

Case study
Stephen and Siobhán MacDonnell, from Cheltenham, know only too well the emotional and financial toll an Easter snack in the wrong paws can cause. Last Easter, Bowie, their one-year-old Flat Coated Retriever, helped himself to three leftover hot cross buns that had been left within easy reach.

The pair rushed their beloved dog to their vets for emergency treatment, where he stayed for two days. Thankfully he suffered no lasting effects, but the ordeal, as well as being incredibly traumatic, also resulted in a vet bill of almost £2,000 – fortunately covered by Bowie’s insurance policy.

Siobhán said, 'Stephen and I had shared half a hot cross bun each, with a cup of coffee, but very foolishly left the remaining three in the packet on the kitchen island. We had only left the kitchen for five minutes but when we returned, the only evidence of Bowie’s thievery was the plastic packaging and cardboard tray left on the floor. Luckily, we knew how dangerous raisins can be to dogs, so we whisked him off to the vet immediately, but we can’t bear to imagine what could have happened if we hadn’t known.'

Bill Lambert, dog health expert at The Kennel Club added, 'Easter should be a time of fun and enjoyment but, with so much food in the house, it’s vital that owners keep a careful eye on their pets. Some of the foods we love to eat during this time can also seem very tempting to our dogs, and their acute sense of smell means they are very adept at finding them! Unfortunately, many of these can be dangerous, and it’s not just chocolate that poses a threat, so it is crucial that owners keep all Easter food out of paws’ reach.

To help owners navigate both the Easter holidays, and the start of Spring safely, The Kennel Club has shared the following tips:-

Seasonal snacks
For many households at this time of year, Easter brings a wealth of different festive food into the household, and a dog’s acute sense of smell means they can unintentionally get hold of poisonous food. If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, grapes or raisins, even a small amount, seek veterinary advice immediately.

Owners should be vigilant to any Easter food brought into the house, particularly chocolate, hot cross buns and Simnel cake, and ensure these are placed safely out of reach – high up and behind closed cupboard doors. Owners should also be wary of their dog eating any food or leftovers from an Easter Sunday roast, as much of it will be too salty or too fatty for them.

For those taking part in a chocolate egg hunt, it is important that dogs are kept away during this activity and that owners keep track of how many chocolates are hidden, so they can ensure they are all found before welcoming a dog back to the area.

To safely involve your dog in the festivities, The Kennel Club has a range of dog-friendly recipes for Easter treats for owners to make at home:

Easter entertaining
Celebrations often mean busier households and can bring more unfamiliar noises, smells and new activities for four-legged friends, which might become overwhelming.

To avoid any seasonal stress, continue their usual walking and eating routine. If welcoming more people into your home, make sure your dog still has their usual personal space so they can retreat to their bed as and when they need it.

You can read more about how to get your dog well prepared, and follow advice on socialising at home via The Kennel Club’s online training hub:

Flora and fauna
Several common flowers, including daffodils, tulips and spring crocuses can be poisonous to dogs, so owners should be alert on walks and in the garden, especially if bulbs were planted earlier in the year.

Snails, toads, ticks and adders are more common in spring and are also potential health hazards to dogs as they can cause infections, bites or stings. During and after spending time outside, owners should be vigilant in checking a dog’s fur for ticks. To find out more about how to identify them, prevent or remove them, contact your vet for further advice.

Countryside cautions
The combination of warmer weather as well as the abundance of longer weekends mean many will be going further afield for dog walks and potentially visiting new areas. Before embarking on a new walking route in the countryside, it is important to understand how to be responsible for you and your dog and to research the area that you are visiting. Spring brings an abundance of wildlife and livestock to the countryside, especially during lambing season. Whenever you are in proximity of livestock or cattle you must have your dog on a lead, under control and prevent your dog from approaching or chasing any livestock or wildlife.  For more advice, visit

Be sure to check the latest local restrictions on dog walking areas and be aware that sometimes dogs are banned from areas such as beaches or fields during certain months, for everyone’s safety.

If travelling somewhere by car, dogs must never be left unattended in the vehicle, regardless of the temperature, even if the car has been left in the shade or with the windows open. If you are travelling 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.

The Kennel Club has more advice on keeping your dog safe during spring, available at:

* Data collected using claims for grape product poisoning and theobromine poisoning across all dog policies underwritten by Agria Pet Insurance received in each month of 2022 and 2023.

Author credits...

The Kennel Club is the largest organisation in the UK devoted to dog health, welfare and training. Its objective is to ensure that dogs live healthy, happy lives with responsible owners. It runs the country’s largest registration database for both pedigree and crossbreed dogs and the Petlog database, which is one of the UK’s biggest reunification service for microchipped animals. The Kennel Club is accredited by UKAS to certify members of its Assured Breeders scheme, which is the only UK-wide scheme that monitors breeders in order to protect the welfare of puppies and breeding bitches. It also runs the UK’s largest dog training programme, The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Training scheme and accredits dog trainers and behaviourists through the City & Guilds Accredited Kennel Club Instructors scheme (KCAI).

It licenses shows and clubs across a wide range of activities, which help dog owners to bond and enjoy life with their dogs. The Kennel Club runs the world’s greatest dog show, Crufts, which showcases canine activities and educates people about how to responsibly buy and care for their dog.

The KC invests in welfare campaigns, dog training and education programmes and The Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which supports research into dog diseases and dog welfare charities, including The Kennel Club Breed Rescue organisations that re-home dogs throughout the UK. The Kennel Club jointly runs health screening schemes with the British Veterinary Association.  

Agria Pet Insurance is one of the world’s leading animal insurers, specialising in animal insurance. Founded in Sweden over 130 years ago, Agria began underwriting policies in the UK in 2009 and is now a prominent part of the UK pet insurance sector. In the UK, Agria works with over 50,000 vets, breeders and rehoming organisations, providing insurance for cats, dogs, rabbits and horses. Agria also administers pet insurance schemes for the leading small animal registration bodies, The Kennel Club, and the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF).

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First published 26th March 2024



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