Sweet Dangers: Why Chocolate Is Bad For Pets

Deerfield_VolVet_iStock_000000406874_MediumWhitman’s, Godiva, See’s, Russell Stover, truffles, chocolate-dipped strawberries… Ok, you get the point.

With Valentine’s day right around the corner, many of us have chocolate on the brain, whether we are buying a box for a special someone, hoping to receive our favorite chocolates, or just love the sweet, dark, confection in general.

As wonderful as it is, chocolate is not without it’s dangers for our furry loved-ones. Chocolate is toxic to pets and poses a serious threat if ingested. Understanding why chocolate is bad for pets, what to look for, and how to help, could save your pet’s life.

Why Is Chocolate Dangerous For Pets?

One of the most common pet poisonings seen by veterinarians is chocolate ingestion. In order to help prevent future occurrences, it’s important for pet owners to educate themselves on chocolate’s dangers.

The three main components to chocolate that make it toxic to pets are:

  • Fat
  • Caffeine
  • Theobromine

The high fat content of chocolate can contribute to gastrointestinal distress and pancreatitis, but the real problems come from caffeine and theobromine. Our pets can’t metabolize these substances as efficiently as we can, which can lead to a host of dangerous consequences.

Symptoms Of Chocolate Toxicity

Even if you didn’t see your pet break into your Whitman’s stash, but suspect that he or she has been indulging in your Valentine’s treats, pay attention for the following signs of chocolate poisoning:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Restlessness/hyperactivity
  • Tremors
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Vomiting/diarrhea
  • Muscle contractions
  • Seizure
  • Collapse

What To Do If Your Pet Eats Chocolate

Chocolate toxicity can vary depending on your pet’s size, breed, how dark the chocolate was (baker’s chocolate is very toxic, while white chocolate is less dangerous). Chocolate consumption should be considered a pet emergency, so whether you witnessed your pet eating chocolate or merely suspect it, the safest first step is to call us right away.

Once a pet is experiencing the side effects of chocolate ingestion, there’s no antidote. Fortunately, if it’s caught early the symptoms can usually be managed and your pet returned to health with the help of supportive veterinary care. Depending on the severity of the poisoning, the following procedures may be performed:

  • Inducing vomiting
  • Controlling excessive vomiting/diarrhea
  • Administration of activated charcoal to absorb toxins
  • Monitoring heart rhythm
  • Washing out the stomach
  • Controlling seizures

Protecting your pet from accidental poisoning is as simple as taking the time to store anything that may be toxic to your pet well out of his or her reach. If you have any questions regarding pet toxins or are concerned that your pet may have ingested something dangerous, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

posted in:  Pet Safety