ANIMAL lovers are being warned not to kill their pets with kindness this Easter.
Accidental pet poisonings are on the up and animal charity RSPCA is reminding owners about potentially deadly treats.
The number of complaints about animal poisoning reported to the RSPCA has increased by nearly 10 per cent in the space of a year.
It is a criminal offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to intentionally poison an animal.
However, some people may be giving their pets tasty treats, without realising they could be dangerous.
A total of 26 pets died from poisoning in County Durham last year, up on 19 from the previous year.
Across Tyne and Wear, including Sunderland, 21 pets met their deaths in 2013, rising from 16 in 2012.
The RSPCA received 1,154 poisoning complaints last year from concerned members of the public. This was up from 1,055 in 2012.
The charity’s chief veterinary officer, James Yeates, said it was worrying to see a rise in complaints of poisoning, but he stressed that many could be avoided if people are more aware of the dangers around their home.
He said: “Chocolate poisoning is one of the most commonly reported types of animal poisoning, so Easter is the ideal time to remind people of the hazards around their home, that could accidentally poison their pets.
“Easter eggs are a tasty treat for many of us, but a hefty vet’s bill won’t be quite so easy to swallow if your pet ends up wolfing them down before you.
“It isn’t just chocolate that is dangerous for animals though. For example, did you know that rhubarb is poisonous to rabbits, or that grapes could kill your ferret?
“There are so many hidden dangers to animals around the home and we want owners to do their homework and keep their pets safe and healthy.”
Owners can find out more by visiting the RSPCA’s poisoning advice pages at www.rspca.org.uk/poisoning.
James added that people should take their animal straight to a vet if they are worried.
Anybody who wants to report a suspected deliberate animal poisoning can call the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.