PDSA is warning pet owners to keep chocolate safely away from prying paws this Easter.

PDSA Vet, Olivia Anderson-Nathan, said: “It’s important to keep your pets out of harm’s way if you’re planning an Easter egg hunt, tidy up any missed treats afterwards, and keep chocolate stored safely and securely the rest of the time. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and don’t know chocolate is bad for them, so many will happily sniff out hidden Easter eggs.”

Cocoa powder and high quality dark chocolates, which contain the highest cocoa solids content, pose the biggest risk to dogs. A bar of dark chocolate or as little as a tablespoon of cocoa could contain enough theobromine to seriously poison a small toy dog such as a Yorkshire Terrier.

The effects of chocolate poisoning in dogs usually appear within a few hours of eating but can take up to a day to show in some cases and include: excessive thirst; vomiting; diarrhoea; a tender tummy and restlessness.

If left without treatment, especially at higher doses, more serious signs can also be seen, including: tremors, rapid breathing, seizures, kidney failure and death.

Other popular Easter goodies such as raisins and sultanas in hot cross buns are also dangerous to pets, and can cause kidney failure and death. The cause of this toxicity is unknown but unlike with chocolate the risk isn’t related to the amount eaten or the size of the pet, so any amount needs urgent treatment.

Store human chocolates out of reach, safely and securely when you have pets in your household. The high calorie content in “pet chocolate” means that even though it isn’t poisonous, it might not be the best choice either.

Olivia concluded: “If you suspect your pet has eaten human chocolate, you should call your vet for advice immediately. If you want to let your pet join the fun, give them their own Easter games with extra playtime, or hide some of their food around the garden."