What could possibly go wrong with chocolatey goodness? For humans, not a whole lot, but for dogs and cats a world full of hurt. Overconsumption of chocolate can end up in chocolate poisoning and even death in pets. Do not take it lightly if your pet eats chocolate. Learn more about chocolate toxicity below:
How Much Chocolate Is Toxic to Pets?
If your pet eats one small piece of chocolate, they typically should be fine. They may have an upset stomach or diarrhea so watch out for that. The concern lies when your pet eats a large amount of chocolate in one sitting. For example, in dogs, one ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight may be fatal. Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include:
- Tremors in the muscles and limbs
- Irregular heartbeats
- Increased heart rate
Why is Chocolate Harmful to Pets?
Chocolate contains harmful ingredients that can poison your pet. Theobromine and caffeine are two that your pet cannot metabolize quickly so they have time to build up in their system. This can result in significant stimulation of the nervous system which can in turn result in tremors, seizures, and more. The severity of the damage depends on the type of chocolate and how much was consumed. The darker the chocolate the more harmful it is because it contains higher concentration levels of theobromine. That does not mean white chocolate is safe though because the high sugar content can cause illness as well.
What is the Best Treatment for Chocolate Toxicity for Pets?
To treat chocolate toxicosis, it is necessary to first address and treat the symptoms. Decontamination should be conducted by your vet as soon as your pet is stable or if symptoms have appeared within 1 hour after consumption. Doses of activated charcoal may be administered to symptomatic patients every 12 hours for up to 24 hours. Your pet may also receive IV fluids and anti-diarrhea medications to address the clinical signs. In extreme situations, clinical signs may last for up to 72 hours.
If your pet has eaten a significant amount of chocolate do not wait to see symptoms and immediately call Pet Poison Helpline® at (855) 764-7661 and your veterinarian to get immediate medical help.