A vet has warned people buying flowers for Mother’s Day this Sunday to ensure they purchase pet-friendly florals to avoid poisoning much-loved pets.

RSPCA Head Vet Vanessa Howie has issued the warning ahead of Mothering Sunday to help pet owners avoid an unexpected trip to the vets this weekend.

Ms Howie said: “Flowers are a lovely gift for Mother’s Day, and I, like many people, love receiving flowers whatever the occasion. But sadly some flowers and plants can be toxic to our pets so it’s important to avoid these.

“Lilies are by far the worst culprit because they are so popular at this time of year but people are not always aware of just how dangerous they are to cats. Cats can actually die from ingesting even a couple of petals from lilies, and the leaves, pollen, and water from the vase can be deadly to them too.

“It is very important that we get the message across that lilies are potentially lethal to cats and that even a little leaf could kill them. Even cutting the stamens out once they have opened is not enough. A small smudge of pollen can be transferred to a cat’s fur, and once a cat starts cleaning itself, they can quickly fall ill.”

“I’ve seen for myself how cats can suffer after lily poisoning and it is so distressing to see and heartbreaking for pet owners. 

“Thankfully, it’s really easy for the public to do their bit and help. We, of course, want to treat all the mums out there this Mother’s Day but if they are cat mums too please do not buy them lilies.” 

In 2021, Jasper, a grey and white kitten, sadly died after his owner was bought a bouquet of roses and lilies as a gift. The Croydon cat owner had no idea the flowers would be toxic to cats. 

Ms Howie said: “Other flowers such as tulips, holly and hyacinths can be toxic to cats and dogs although their toxicity is considered to be low.However, even non-toxic plants may cause some stomach upsets if ingested so it’s always important to remember to place flowers out of reach of pets.”

The RSPCA also reports that chocolate poisoning is the most commonly reported type of animal poisoning - so the charity is reminding people to keep Mother’s Day treats out of reach of cats and dogs.

“If you suspect that your pet has eaten chocolate, don’t delay in calling your vet first for advice on bringing them into the practice,” added Ms Howie.

“Your vet will want to know how much chocolate your pet has eaten and what type. If possible, keep any labels and have your pet’s weight to hand.”

Signs that your pet could have been poisoned vary and can include any of the following

• depression

• lack of appetite

• vomiting and diarrhoea

• breathing difficulties and bad breath

• twitching

• seizures

“Ahead of the Mother’s Day celebrations, and as we all strive to create a better world for every animal, we urge pet owners to ensure the occasion is as pet-friendly as possible and share this advice with others to help us spread the word,” added Ms Howie .

For more information on toxic items and products, see the Veterinary Poisons Information Service.

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give.