Cocoa No-No: Chocolate Toxicity and Your Pet
Chocolate is something many of us enjoy, and chocolate is usually the staple sugar around Valentine’s Day and other holidays. Chocolate is also an ingredient in many desserts, drinks, and food items. But chocolate in all forms is poisonous to pets.
The Whole Pet Vet Hospital and Wellness Center is here to explain why chocolate toxicity can occur, the symptoms to watch for, and how to better protect your fur friend.
Chocolate contains two chemicals which are toxic to pets. These are caffeine and theobromine.
Theobromine is the more dangerous of the two as it contains higher levels of the chemical compounds that affect your pet. Both of these chemicals are stimulants and diuretic, causing an increase in blood pressure and pulse. While we are able to enjoy chocolate without dealing with negative side-effects (except extra calories!), our pets cannot effectively metabolize caffeine and theobromine.
Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning
Most chocolate poisonings are not fatal and can be treated. Knowing the amount and kind of chocolate ingested is important to diagnosis and treatment. Dark chocolate and baker’s quality chocolate are more toxic than your basic milk chocolate bar. Baking chocolate contains around 130-450 mg per ounce of theobromine, while milk chocolate contains 44-58 mg per ounce.
This is not to say that your pet eating a Snickers is okay, because it is still toxic; it just means that the symptoms won’t be as severe as dark or baker’s chocolate ingestion.
Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Racing heart
- High blood pressure
If the toxicity is severe enough, it can lead to heart failure. Intervene by calling your veterinarian or by going to the nearest pet emergency hospital.
Treatment and Prevention
When treating chocolate toxicity, we look at the amount and kind of chocolate the pet ate and at approximately what time. Then we assess the symptoms occurring. Treatment may entail:
- Administering medications that induce vomiting
- Giving your pet activated charcoal, which absorbs the chemicals
- Giving intravenous fluid to increase urination to rid your pet of theobromine
- Monitoring symptoms
Preventing toxicity relies on awareness and action. Look around the home and stash all chocolate and products containing chocolate. Take a look at the Pet Poison Helpline’s list of pet toxins, and while you are storing chocolate, look for anything else that might cause a poisoning threat.
If your pet has eaten chocolate, call us right away! Time is of the essence in any poisoning situation.
We hope this has given you the right knowledge to prevent chocolate toxicity. If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment for your four-legged friend, please contact us.