Chocolate is often known to kill a diet but what many animal lovers don't realise is that a tiny amount of chocolate can literally kill an animal.

The RSPCA is sending an Easter warning to families that while the humble egg is a great treat for humans, just 50 grams ingested by an animal has the potential to be deadly.

The problem is that the systems of cats and dogs cannot tolerate theobromine, one of key ingredients of chocolate, RSPCA director of veterinary services Dr Anne Chester said.

Theobromine can cause a range of problems in domestic animals by triggering the release of adrenaline.

Dr Chester says this can lead to an accelerated heart rate that can cause pets to vomit, suffer diarrhoea and excessive urination and become hyperactive, even leading to depression, coma, seizures or death.

Dr Chester says families could avoid the issue by placing trays of Easter eggs away from the opportunistic family pooch.

We want everyone to enjoy the Easter break but please think carefully before you feed your pets food designed for humans - especially chocolate, she said.

Other potentially dangerous snacks to avoid giving animals include onions, barbecue leftovers and cooked bones.