A York veterinary practice is warning owners to keep Easter treats out of reach of pets to avoid an emergency trip to the vets.

The Minster Veterinary Practice, in Salisbury Road, said it typically sees a rise in the number of pets brought into its 24-hour hospital after eating something they shouldn't have in the run up to Easter.

Chocolate eggs, sweet, and hot cross buns can be potentially fatal if eaten by animals, while Easter Sunday dinner can cause problems with gastroenteritis or choking on bones.York Press: Dr Sarah Ford, clinical director of Minster Vets, with spaniel TuckerDr Sarah Ford, clinical director of Minster Vets, with spaniel Tucker (Image: Vetpartners)

Dr Sarah Ford, clinical director of Minster Vets, said: "Whether it’s caused by well-meaning owners treating their pets with chocolate or dogs helping themselves to Easter eggs that have been accidentally left within their reach, we see a lot of pets needing treatment for chocolate poisoning at this time of year.

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

"Darker chocolate carries a greater the risk of poisoning and, the smaller the dog, the more dangerous eating chocolate is.

"Some people may prefer sweets to chocolate, but be aware that many of these contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol, which is toxic to pets.

"The safest option is to keep all chocolate and sweets locked away and well out of reach, but if you suspect your pet has eaten anything toxic, call your veterinary practice straight away."

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The practice has explained that chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine that dogs cannot break down, which can cause heart problems, fits, seizures, and affect the kidneys.

York Press: Chocolate is toxic to dogsChocolate is toxic to dogs

Turkey, chicken, and lamb found in an Easter Sunday roast dinner are rich and fatty which can result in vomiting and diarrhoea, and increase the risk of gastroenteritis and occasionally lead to pancreatitis.

Onions and garlic, in any of their forms, can also cause vomiting, diarrhoea and anaemia.

Cooked meat bones can also cause choking, a blockage, or perforate the intestine.

Raisins, currants and sultanas in hot cross buns and simnel cake can also be toxic to pets, said the practice.

Sarah added: "Even the most well-behaved pets can be tempted to steal food, so make sure they can’t reach the tops of cookers or kitchen worktops and that bins containing leftovers aren’t accessible."

The practice has also warned against flowers, as daffodils, tulips and crocuses can be toxic to dogs, while lilies can cause kidney failure in cats.

Stuffed cuddly toys and plastic toys can cause choking or blockages when chewed or swallowed by dogs, and alcohol can be fatal if consumed.