Dogs and cats are known for eating things when they are not supposed to. This is especially true of puppies and kittens. Typically cats will turn up their nose at chocolate, but most dogs find it irresistible. Also, dogs have an excellent sense of smell, making it fairly easy to find any secret hiding spots for the chocolate. This can be a dangerous combination when there is chocolate around the house.
Chocolate is made from seeds of the cacao tree and contains certain properties that are toxic to animals: caffeine and theobromine. If ingested, these can prompt multiple medical complications and may even prove fatal. Dogs and cats cannot metabolize these like people can, therefore it makes them more sensitive to these ingredients. Chocolates and candy bars are the most common ingested but other sources include flavored multi-vitamins, baked goods, liqueurs, or chocolate-covered espresso beans.Typically, the less sweet and the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is to your pet. Baker’s chocolate, dark and semi-sweet chocolates, cocoa beans and cocoa powder cause the biggest problems. White chocolate has very little theobromine and does not normally cause poisoning.
If your pet eats a small amount of chocolate it may cause mild vomiting and diarrhea. Larger amounts can cause severe symptoms like agitation, increased and abnormal heart rhythms, and seizures. Due to the higher fat content in chocolate, some pets may develop pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) after ingesting it.
Signs to watch for:
- Increased heart rate
- Elevated blood pressure
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Elevated body temperature
If you suspect that your dog or cat has eaten chocolate, or starts showing these signs, talk with your veterinarian immediately. With Valentine’s day right around the corner, make sure your sweet treats are kept out of paws reach. Also, watch out for candy wrappers which can be a choking hazard or possibly cause a bowel obstruction. Check out these other Valentines Day Tips.