Can Chocolate Affect your Pets?
Picture this scene: A big holiday party where friends and family are gathered around tables covered in food and desserts. Your dog or cat works the crowd on the hunt for table scraps or food from compassionate party guests. Somehow, they end up eating chocolate. You find yourself thinking, “Will a little chocolate really hurt my pet?”
In 2015, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center listed chocolate as number seven on the top pet toxins for the year; making it clear chocolate is an issue. The amount and type of chocolate ingested is an important factor, as well as the size of your pet. Chocolate is a poison to pets, but it affects them differently depending on their size and how much they consumed. For example, a large dog may feel less effects than a small dog or cat.
Theobromine is the toxic component of chocolate. Although humans can metabolize it quickly (thankfully), cats and dogs metabolize it slowly which creates a toxic build up. Some pets may vomit or have diarrhea after eating chocolate, but for others too much chocolate can be fatal. According to Hill’s, a pet food company, large amount of theobromine can cause muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding, or a heart attack.
Different types of chocolate also contain different levels of toxicity. Cocoa, baking, and dark chocolates are the most toxic, while milk and white chocolates are less toxic. For example, Hill’s states that it takes less than one ounce of dark chocolate to poison a 44lbs dog.
If you suspect your pet has consumed chocolate, it’s important to contact your vet. “Your vet will ask the size of your dog, the amount of chocolate consumed and type of chocolate. They may want you to induce vomiting or just watch their behavior,” Tina Wismer, medical director of the Animal Poison Control Center at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told PetMD. She also said that symptoms of chocolate toxicity can take 6-12 hours to appear and can last for up to 72 hours. Some symptoms to watch out for are: extreme thirst, diarrhea, too much energy, pacing, panting, shaking, or seizures.
To learn more about chocolate’s effect on pets check out the following articles: