Chocolate Toxicity

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Chocolate Toxicity

Chocolate is a family favorite, especially around the holidays! We get and give chocolate treats at Halloween, eat chocolate bunnies at Easter, various chocolate cakes and cookies at Christmas, chocolate hearts on Valentine’s Day, not to mention birthdays and other family events. Although we can digest chocolate with relative ease, to our furry friends it’s toxic.

Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic in sufficient quantities. So the type of chocolate and the amount of chocolate ingested, along with the weight of your pet, is very important. Baking chocolate is the worst for animals because it contains high concentrations of theobromine. Semisweet, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and chocolate cakes/cookies follow respectively. Thus if a 15 lb dog eats 2 oz of milk chocolate he/she will probably experience digestive problems, while 2 oz of Baker’s chocolate can cause severe problems.

Problems seen from toxic chocolate ingestion usually occur within 12 hours. The symptoms include:

Hyper-excitability
Hyper-nervousness or irritability
Increased heart rate
Vomiting
Diarrhea
Excessive thirst
Excessive urination
Muscle spasms
Seizures
Coma & Death (rare)

If you notice any of these symptoms or believe your pet has ingested chocolate, please contact your veterinarian immediately. Treatment will depend on the time of ingestion, the amount and the type of chocolate and your pets’ weight. Typical treatments include, but are not limited to, inducing vomiting, IV fluids, administering activated charcoal, anti-seizure medications and cardiac medications. The effects of chocolate toxicity can last for several days so hospitalization may be required.

In order to enjoy happy holidays and events with your pets, please keep all your chocolate treasures away from their reach and inform friends and family not to feed them.