Chocolate – Not a Sweet Treat for Pets

Halloween is almost upon us which means Trick or Treating and CHOCOLATE!  This sweet treat for humans can be deadly to our 4-legged friends, based on the type and amount of chocolate ingested. The active ingredient in chocolate that causes problems with dogs and cats is called theobromine, which is a distant cousin of caffeine.

Just ingesting chocolate can cause an upset stomach or even pancreatitis in our pets.  In these cases, you can see:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lack of appetite

Even worse, excitation to the nervous system can be seen with chocolate ingestion which includes the following signs:

  • Nervousness
  • Hyperactivity/restlessness
  • Racing heart
  • Twitching/tremors
  • Panting
  • Seizures (severe cases)

The theobromine can also cause a dangerously rapid heart rate, arrhythmias, and high blood pressure which may require treatment.

If your pet ingests chocolate contact a veterinarian or The Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661, $49 per incident fee applies) ASAP to ensure immediate decontamination and treatment isn’t required.  It takes nearly four days for the effects of chocolate to work its way out of a pet’s system so don’t delay – if dangerous levels of chocolate have been ingested, it is possible to induce vomiting (if eaten within the past 2 hours); otherwise, hospitalization and support are needed until the chocolate has worked its way out of the system.

As mentioned above, different types of chocolate are more deadly than others.  Can you rank these different types of chocolate from least to most deadly?

Mild Chocolate, Cocoa Beans, Semi-sweet Chocolate, White Chocolate, Baker’s Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Dry Cocoa Powder, and Milk Chocolate

The answer will be provided next time!

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