February 14, 2022
Happy Valentine’s Day! This time of year it is common to receive chocolate you might not ordinarily have around, and this can quickly become an enticing snack for your pets. It is important to keep in mind just how toxic chocolate can be for dogs and cats.
Chocolate is dangerous for our pets because it contains theobromine and caffeine. Dogs and cats cannot metabolize theobromine and caffeine as well as people can. For example: a 50 lb dog can show signs of poisoning after eating 9 oz of milk chocolate, while a 150 lb human would need to eat over 1,000 oz of milk chocolate to become affected.
The more bitter the chocolate, the more toxic it is. Baking and gourmet dark chocolate contain the most theobromine and caffeine, followed by semi-sweet dark chocolate, milk chocolate then white chocolate. If it takes 9 oz of milk chocolate to affect a 50 lb dog, it may only take 1 oz of bakers chocolate to cause symptoms. For many dogs, ingesting a small amount of milk chocolate or white chocolate is not harmful. Cats rarely choose to eat chocolate, but it is just as toxic for them as it is for dogs.
Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include: vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, restlessness and a racing heart rate. At higher doses, more serious symptoms can develop including tremors, seizures, heart arrhythmias, heart failure and even death. Signs can take a few hours to develop and can last for days.
What should you do if your pet ingests chocolate?
Contact us immediately. We can help you decide if your pet is in danger.
If it is after hours, you can call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 ($65) to determine if you need to seek care, or you can contact one of our local emergency vets.
The sooner treatment begins, the better your pet’s prognosis.
Of course it would be best if your pet didn’t eat chocolate in the first place! Here are some tips for prevention:
- Store all products containing chocolate in a secure location that your pets cannot reach. This is especially important if you have any bakers chocolate or gourmet dark chocolate in the house.
- Teach your pet the “leave it” command. This training can keep your pet from snatching up something that drops on the floor.
- Spread the word. If more people know that chocolate is toxic to their pets, more people can take steps to prevent ingestion and fewer animals will be exposed!
If you have any questions about chocolate toxicity and your pet, please contact Pawtown Veterinary Care. We would be happy to help!