No Fondue For You: Why Chocolate Is Bad For Pets

No Fondue For You: Why Chocolate Is Bad For Pets

Schertz_iStock_000018159142_LargeIf you’ve ever made your own pet treats or inspected the ingredient list on the pet food label, you’ve probably noticed the absence of chocolate. Tied with Xylitol, grapes, raisins, onions, and garlic, chocolate is at the top of the list of foods your pet should never eat.

But why is chocolate bad for pets? Is it the sugar or fat content that make it a no-no? Let’s cover the basics about chocolate and how your pet’s exposure to it can be quite serious.

Chemical Compounds

Chocolate is derived from the tropical cacao tree. Theobromine, a powerful methylxanthine like caffeine, is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in chocolate and solely is responsible for a pet’s serious reactions.

The Signs and Symptoms

Methylxanthines affect the nervous system, cardiovascular system, and peripheral nerves.

People metabolize theobromine and caffeine differently than pets. Even if we experience adverse effects (elevated heart rate, headache, sweating, and trembling), they are never as bad as an animal’s.

If you suspect that your pet has eaten chocolate, you may see any of the following symptoms within 12 hours:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Excitement
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness/trembling
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Increased heart rate
  • Depending on your pet’s theobromine exposure, symptoms of chocolate toxicity will vary somewhat. Please contact us immediately if your pet displays any of these signs. Early intervention is extremely important and potentially life-saving.

    Treatment of Chocolate Poisoning

    While there is no antidote for theobromine consumption, there are ways we can mitigate the negative side effects.

    We may:

  • Induce vomiting (depending on the timeframe)
  • Set up an IV to flush theobromine out of your pet’s system
  • Offer activated charcoal to absorb the toxins
  • Administer medications to regulate blood pressure, heart rate, seizures, or muscle tremors
  • All Roads Lead To: Chocolate Is Bad For Pets

    Theobromine is dose dependent so having an understanding of what type of and how much chocolate your pet consumed is helpful. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. Please store the following items out of reach and out of sight:

  • Cocoa powder
  • Baker’s chocolate
  • Semi Sweet and dark chocolate
  • Milk chocolate
  • White chocolate doesn’t pose serious risks due to low theobromine levels, but the sugar and fat content is far too high to safely offer your pet.

    Please, No Sharing

    It’s wonderful to share the things you enjoy eating with the ones you love, but for your pet’s sake, never willingly share your chocolate with him or her. We aim to educate all pet owners on why chocolate is bad for pets as chocolate poisoning is a leading cause of emergency care. Accidents happen, but do what you can do now to prevent accidental chocolate poisoning and know what to look for in the case of an emergency.

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