How Easter can cost dog owners dearly

More than $38,000 was spent on pet insurance with Southern Cross last year from chocolate poisoning, up from $22,000 in 2017.

But it's not just chocolate you need to keep away from your pet this Easter. Southern Cross spokesperson Kerry Murray says hot cross buns can also be fatal for dogs.

"Raisins and sultanas are really dangerous for dogs - they can cause death as well. So if you're making your hot cross buns… and thinking you'll make one for the dog, it's not a good idea."

In one case last year, a labrador suffered gastroenteritis after eating chocolate, cereal, pizza and fruit mince pies. The vet bill was $1775, which covered hospitalisation, x-rays, lab tests, pain relief and intravenous fluids.

And vomiting had to be induced in an akita cross which ate chocolate raisins. The vet bill came to $1350.

Murray says dogs only need to eat a bar of chocolate and it could be fatal. If your dog does end up eating it, go to the vet right away.

"It's really good to take the chocolate wrappers with you, and the box the chocolates came in, and you should go straight to the vet."

It's the caffeine and theobromine in chocolate that make it poisonous. The higher the cocoa content, the worse it is for the dog.

"If you had a 10kg dog - a mini schnauzer, or a mini poodle - if they were to eat just a normal chocolate bar, that could actually kill them," says Murray.

Chocolate is also poisonous to cats, but they can barely taste sweet flavours so usually ignore it.