Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs and Cats

Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs and Cats

Of all the dangerous foods in our kitchens, chocolate is one of the most hazardous to our pets—it only takes a small amount to do serious harm, and it may even attract pets due to its sweet taste and smell. Learn more from a Chico veterinarian below.

What Makes Chocolate Poisonous?

Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical derived from the cacao bean that makes chocolate. It also contains caffeine, which isn’t good for animals. Both of these dangerous substances combine to make chocolate one of the most hazardous foods in our kitchen cabinets.

What are the Symptoms of Poisoning?

A pet that has ingested chocolate will first demonstrate an increased heartbeat, rapid breathing, a raised body temperature, and stiffness. Vomiting, diarrhea, and low blood pressure will follow shortly after. If left untreated, chocolate poisoning can result in seizures, heart failure, coma, and even death.

Is All Chocolate Dangerous?

While different types of chocolate have varying levels of theobromine and caffeine, all have the potential to harm our pets. Baker’s chocolate often has the highest levels of offending ingredients, but milk, semi-sweet, dark, and even white chocolates can prove harmful. Don’t forget about products that contain chocolate as an ingredient, either.

What Should I Do If My Pet Eats Chocolate?

If you witness or suspect that your pet has ingested any amount of chocolate, take him to your local veterinary emergency room as soon as possible. Prompt veterinary attention is the best way to ensure your pet returns to full health—your vet may induce vomiting or give activated charcoal to stop the spread of poisoning. Fluid therapy helps many pets in the recovery stage, and certain dietary changes or restrictions may be necessary as your pet’s body recovers.

Can I Prevent Episodes of Poisoning?

Obviously, it’s far easier and less frightening to prevent an episode of chocolate poisoning than to deal with it after the fact. Always keep all chocolate treats and any products that contain chocolate out of your pet’s reach. Store them in sealed containers inside closed cabinets where pets don’t have access. Never leave chocolate lying out on countertops or tables where a pet could swipe them down.

Keep your Chico vet’s number close at hand to call in the event of an accident. Ask him or her about other potentially harmful foods in your home and how to prevent your pet’s access.

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