Chocolate Toxicity

With Halloween coming up, candy will be aplenty. It is important to remember that what might be a tasty treat to us, can be deadly for our pets. You have most likely heard of the danger chocolate poses for pets. But, what exactly makes chocolate so toxic, and what should be done if your pet accidentally ingests some?

Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which can be lethal to our pets in small quantities. The quantities of these substances vary, depending on the type of chocolate. White chocolate is nearly free of these substances. Dry cocoa powder and baker’s chocolate contain the highest quantities while milk chocolate contains much less.

After ingestion, symptoms typically appear within 6 to 12 hours or even sooner. You may notice vomiting, diarrhea, a distended abdomen, increased thirst, or hyperactivity at first. As symptoms worsen, your pet can experience tremors, seizures, cardiac dysfunction, respiratory failure, changes in blood pressure, or coma.

If you think there is a chance that your pet ingested any amount of chocolate, it is best to contact your veterinarian immediately. If your pet receives immediate treatment, and the chocolate is removed from their stomach early enough, the probability for damage is drastically reduced. If some time has passed and your pet is already showing symptoms, they will typically require hospitalization and supportive care. IV fluids, medications, urinary catheter, and close monitoring may be necessary treatments in this case. As with nearly all illnesses or injuries, prompt treatment is most important in reducing potential complications or even death.

Be sure to keep all candy, especially chocolate, out of your pet’s reach, and you’ll surely enjoy a Happy Halloween!