Imagining a life without chocolate may be very hard for most people. While humans can enjoy chocolate generally without negative effects, our pets simply cannot. Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which can be toxic to animals, particularly cats and dogs. As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to be aware of chocolate poisoning and the symptoms. Read below to learn how you can be a responsible pet owner and still enjoy chocolate.
The Causes of Chocolate Poisoning
When it comes to chocolate, the darker it is, the more deadly it can be. Theobromine and caffeine are compounds found in chocolate that are toxic to pets. Darker chocolates such as baker’s chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, cocoa powder, and dark chocolate have significantly higher concentrations of theobromine and caffeine than milk chocolate. In contrast, white and milk chocolate have less theobromine, but have high levels of fat and sugar. The high sugar and fat content can still cause mild symptoms. Humans metabolize theobromine and caffeine quickly, but dogs and cats are not able to process these compounds as quickly. A buildup of theobromine and caffeine can result in poisoning.
Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning
Chocolate poisoning in pets can be caused by ingestion of chocolate or cocoa products and can be fatal if not treated quickly. If your pet ingests chocolate, they may display the following clinical signs:
- Body tremors
- Irregular heartbeats
- Increased heart rate
Treatment for Chocolate Poisoning
Act quickly if your pet is exhibiting any abnormal behavior or symptoms of chocolate poisoning. Contact both Pet Poison Helpline® at (855) 764-7661 and your veterinarian for immediate medical help. If your dog or cat is displaying severe symptoms, take them to the nearest veterinary clinic without delay. While at home, do not induce vomiting. You may do more harm than good.
Once you are at the clinic, your veterinarian will note down the symptoms that your pet is exhibiting. Bring a sample of what they ate if possible. This can help the veterinarian assess your pet’s condition. After the examination, your veterinarian may use activated charcoal to bind any toxins. Other treatments may involve IV fluids to help with excretion, sedatives to relax your pet, medications to reduce heart rate and blood pressure, anticonvulsants for seizures, medication for stomach upset or diarrhea, and other supportive care. With prompt care, your pet should be able to make a full recovery.