You may have noticed that we like to celebrate the various pet holidays on the calendar. Well, today is one that you definitely don’t want to celebrate with your pet: it’s Chocolate Chip Day! While you may very well decide to indulge with your favorite chocolate chip treat, don’t share it with your furry friend. Chocolate is toxic to our animal companions! A local Spring Hill, TN vet offers some information on this below.
Chocolate isn’t unsafe because of sugar content, though that’s also an issue with many sweets. The problem here is a substance called theobromine, which pets can’t metabolize. Chocolate also contains caffeine, another no-no. Fido is often at highest risk, however, because of his penchant for eating, well, anything. However, chocolate is also dangerous to cats and other animals. In fact, it’s one of the only things that is considered unsafe for almost all animals.
It’s important to know the warning signs to look for. These include vomiting, increased urination, diarrhea, restless/erratic behavior, panting, rigid muscles, and elevated body temperature. More serious signs include seizure, heart attack, weakness, and coma. Unfortunately, chocolate can be fatal to pets at just one ounce per pound of their body weight.
Some kinds of chocolate are more dangerous than others. Pure cocoa powder is the most dangerous, because it hasn’t been diluted or combined with anything else. Unsweetened baker’s chocolate is the next worst, with semi-sweet chocolate, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate following behind. (Note: Pet MD has a chart detailing chocolate toxicity for dogs.)
What do you do if you know or suspect that your pet ingested chocolate? Contact your vet, even if it was a minuscule amount. You can also call a poison control center. (The ASPCA’s is (888) 426-4435: charges may apply.) The severity of your pet’s reaction will depend on the type and amount of chocolate he ate, as well as his sensitivity to it. You may be advised to administer hydrogen peroxide and fluids, but follow given instructions. Theobromine will take some time—perhaps several days—to work its way out of your furry friend’s system. In fact, you may not even see symptoms easing for a few days. Your best bet? Play it safe, and keep chocolates out of paws’ reach!
Do you have questions about pet care? Contact us, your Spring Hill, TN pet clinic!