Chocolate Poisoning in Pets

Most pet owners are already aware that chocolate is a big no-no for their dogs and cats. Still, it never hurts to have a reminder! Read more below as your Briargate veterinarian discusses chocolate poisoning in more detail.

What in Chocolate is Toxic, Exactly?

One dangerous element of chocolate is caffeine, which can cause hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, irregular heartbeat, seizures, and more. Another toxic chemical in chocolate is theobromine, which is similar to caffeine but is found in even higher doses. While unsweetened chocolate (also known as baker’s chocolate) contains the highest levels of theobromine and is therefore the most deadly, all types of chocolate have toxic properties and should be avoided by all pets.

What Symptoms Will a Pet Display?

First, a pet will likely exhibit rapid breathing, restlessness, stiffness, and increased heart rate and body temperature. As the poisoning progresses, vomiting, diarrhea, and low blood pressure will follow. If your pet doesn’t get treatment, serious symptoms like stupor, seizures, heart failure, and even coma can result.

What Should I Do If My Pet Eats Chocolate?

If you see your pet eat chocolate, or simply suspect they’ve chowed down, rush your pet to your local animal hospital. Keep your vet’s number on hand to call ahead in just such an emergency.

Your vet may use a stomach pump, activated charcoal, or other methods to rid your pet’s body of the toxin and stop the absorption of poison by your pet’s systems. Fluid therapy, dietary modifications, and other procedures may be needed on an outpatient basis. Your vet can tell you more about your pet’s recovery from chocolate poisoning.

How Can I Prevent Chocolate Poisoning?

Clearly, preventing episodes of chocolate poisoning is far easier than dealing with them after the fact. Luckily, preventing chocolate ingestion by your pet is as simple as making sure your pet doesn’t have access—always store all chocolate treats or products containing chocolate in sealed containers inside of closed cabinets. Don’t leave chocolate items on kitchen countertops or tables, where determined pets could swipe them down.

Remember to keep your Briargate vet’s phone number close by if you need it in a pinch. Also be sure to ask about other dangerous foods that may already be in your kitchen!