PET owners are being reminded to be extra vigilant to stop their four-legged friends from eating chocolate over Easter.

Dunedin Vets, whose main practice is in Tranent with branch surgeries in North Berwick, Prestonpans and Dunbar, expects to see a rise in the number of poorly pets who have eaten something they should not have in the run-up to Easter.

Easter eggs, sweets and hot cross buns may be tempting treats but they are potentially fatal if eaten by pets.

Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which is toxic to pets, and even small amounts can cause heart problems, hyper-excitability and fits. Raisins in hot cross buns can be deadly to pets, while the traditional Easter Sunday dinner can cause problems with gastroenteritis or choking on bones. Lilies are poisonous to cats, and daffodil, crocus and tulip bulbs are toxic to dogs.

Margot Hunter, clinical director of Dunedin Vets, said: “Whether it’s caused by well-meaning owners treating their pets with chocolate or chocolate accidentally left within their reach, we see a lot of dogs suffering from chocolate poisoning at this time of year.

“The higher the level of cocoa in the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains, so the darker the chocolate, the greater the risk.

“Symptoms of chocolate poisoning can include vomiting, diarrhoea, increased heart rate, and can lead to seizures and cardiac failure.

“Some sweets contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol, which is toxic to pets.

“The safest option is to keep chocolate and sweets locked away.”