Your Pet and Chocolate

One of the most common and dangerous pet poisons out there is one of many humans’ favorite treats: chocolate. Dogs are the most commonly affected pets, most likely due to their tendency to gobble up whatever morsel presents itself, but other kinds of pets can be harmed as well. Below, your Carolina Forest, SC veterinarian goes over the basics of your pet and chocolate.

What Makes Chocolate Toxic?

Chocolate of all types contains caffeine and a similar stimulating chemical called theobromine, both of which stimulate the central nervous system and heart of your pet—it’s this reaction that can lead to serious health problems. Baking chocolate, dark chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate contain the highest amounts of theobromine, and are therefore the riskiest. However, other types of chocolate—milk, white, and even foods like cookies or cakes that contain chocolate—are still quite dangerous!

What are the Symptoms of Poisoning?

Initial signs of chocolate poisoning in pets include agitation and excitement, thirst, vomiting, and diarrhea. Without treatment, loss of coordination, seizures, and even coma and death can occur. Smaller pets are at a greater risk for serious complications from chocolate ingestion, simply because their smaller size means that it won’t take much of the hazardous chemicals to start causing harm.

How is Chocolate Poisoning Treated?

If you see or suspect that your pet has ingested chocolate of any kind, rush them to the nearest veterinary emergency room. Be sure to tell the veterinarian what type of chocolate your pet has eaten, and how much.

A veterinarian may induce vomiting to rid your pet’s stomach of the poison, or an absorbent charcoal medication may be given to stop the toxin from absorbing further into your companions’ system. If a pet has already absorbed theobromine into their system, anti-seizure medication, IV fluids, and heart medications may be necessary.

How Can I Prevent the Problem?

Obviously, preventing chocolate poisoning in the first place is far preferable to treating it after the fact! Fortunately, it’s not difficult to prevent an episode of poisoning in your beloved pet. Keep any and all chocolate treats stored safely where pets can’t reach—never leave chocolates out on the counter or table. Instead, put them inside closed containers, cabinets, or the refrigerator to restrict pets’ access.

Does your animal companion need a veterinary examination? Have more questions about potentially toxic human foods? Contact your Carolina Forest, SC vet clinic.