Saffron and Autumn crocus exposure in dogs

Saffron and Autumn crocus exposure in dogs

Autumn crocuses are also known as Colchium autumnale or meadow saffron. They are a perennial flowering plant found in permanent pasture and woodland, and are widely cultivated. The plant flowers from May to October before the leaves appear. The flowers are purple, occasionally white, and resemble a crocus flower. This plant is not related to the spring crocus.

All parts of the plant are potentially toxic. The toxic substance is called colchicine. The greatest concentration of colchicine is found in the seeds and bulbs. Colchicine affects the growth and development of cells; therefore, it has the biggest impact on vital cells, such as bone marrow cells, and the lining of the intestine.


Signs are normally seen within 48 hours of consumption. These include: severe gastrointestinal irritation, fever, kidney and liver problems, abnormal numbers of red and white blood cells, and bone marrow suppression. Other signs to look for are: lethargy, weakness, dehydration, collapse and shock due to intestinal irritation.



When to see your physical veterinarian

  • Has your pet eaten, or come into contact with, crocuses or saffron, or any other potentially toxic food items? If yes, please seek veterinary advice. Contact your own veterinarian to make an emergency appointment.
  • Visit TVM UK for more information on common poisons that can affect your pet.


TVM UK have developed an easy to remember acronym S.P.E.E.D to help owners if they think that their dog has eaten something poisonous. Your vet only has a short, limited time frame to try and minimise the absorption of poisons so an immediate appointment is essential and potentially life-saving.

S - Stop access to any poison. It may seem obvious but stop your dog eating or licking any more of the substance.

P - Phone the vet. Keep your vet’s phone number and their emergency (out of hours) number handy in case you ever need them.

E - Emergency appointment. You cannot ‘wait and see’ with poisons as many do not affect your pet straight away, some can take several days to show symptoms, all the while doing damage to the internal organs whilst showing no sign on the outside. Getting your dog seen immediately gives you the best chance to get effective treatment for your dog.

E - Evidence. Knowing what the potential poison is will really help your vet make a rapid diagnosis and create the best treatment protocol for a successful recovery. If you have a label of the substance then take it with you to the clinic. If you don’t have a label but have access to the substance then bring a sample for testing (only if it is safe to do so and you are not putting yourself or anyone else in danger). If you don’t have a label or a sample but your dog has been sick, then bring a sample of this with you (if safe to do so) as the ingredient may be present in the vomit. If you don’t have access to any of these then don’t worry as your pet’s blood can be tested via certain laboratories.

D - Don’t delay. You cannot afford to wait, act straight away!


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