With Easter just around the corner, people up and down the country will soon be indulging in chocolate eggs and feasting on sweet treats to celebrate the holiday.

However, what many pet owners don't realise is that having lots of chocolate around the house can be a hazard for their animals, since this foodstuff is poisonous to cats, dogs and other critters.

Indeed, the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) - a subscription advice service for vets - has listed chocolate poisoning in its top ten list of common poisons, and the sweet treat was recorded as the number one enquiry for dogs in 2012.

Therefore, it is vital that this Easter all pet owners make the effort to keep chocolate out of reach of cats and dogs, and ensure that they never feed it to their animals as a treat.

If you do want to reward your mutt or moggie, it is far safer to stick to healthy dog or cat food treats, as this will help make sure that your pets are not put at any unnecessary risk.

But if you do notice that your cat or dog has eaten chocolate, it is essential that you seek veterinary help right away to avoid having to deal with any serious complications.

"Although fatalities caused by chocolate are rare they can and do happen, so it is essential to seek veterinary help and advice immediately," said Robin Hargreaves, president elect of the British Veterinary Association.

"Always have as much information to hand when contacting your vet, including the type and amount of chocolate consumed and the weight of your dog. This will help the vet to give determine the likelihood of problems and give you the best advice."

It's important to bear in mind that many veterinary surgeries have different opening hours over Bank holiday weekends, so make sure that you have an emergency number so you can contact a vet at any hour should something go wrong.

Written by: Hannah