Dog owners are being reminded about the potentially fatal consequences of allowing pets to get their paws on a chocolatey feast this Easter.

Emma Strange, clinical director at Broadway Vets, which has practices in Heswall, Wallasey and Bebington, has spoken out to highlight just how toxic chocolate can be for family pets, urging all dog owners to be extra careful where they leave Easter eggs and other treats during the holiday period.

Chocolate contains theobromine, a substance which is extremely harmful to dogs as they struggle to metabolise it, so it builds up in their bodies to toxic levels.

If a dog is suffering from chocolate poisoning, they can display symptoms including hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhoea and fits.

While it is widely known that high levels of cocoa can make canines ill, Emma is also urging dog owners to be aware of the potentially fatal damage xylitol, a sugar replacement, can cause.

Emma, of Heswall, said: “In this day and age, when many people are striving to be healthier, they are seeking alternatives to sugar for their recipes and are increasingly using xylitol.

“But what can be perfectly healthy and good for us humans can result in the loss of a pet’s life, so I would urge dog owners to keep anything containing xylitol safely locked away.

“Of course, all chocolate and cocoa products should also be kept well out of the reach of dogs.

“Dark chocolate is the most dangerous as it has a higher cocoa content but milk chocolate is also a threat, as just a couple of small pieces can sometimes be enough to cause a problem.

“The first two hours after eating chocolate can be vital for a pet’s recovery, so it’s essential to call a vet immediately. The sooner a dog is seen and treated the better.

“Information is often key and knowing the type of chocolate, the amount eaten and even keeping the chocolate wrapper can all help, as the wrapper should tell us the amount of cocoa content in the treat.”

To find out more information about Broadway Vets, and about how to protect your pet, visit search for @broadwayveterinarysurgery on Facebook.