Why is Chocolate Bad for Your Pets? How Bad is Chocolate for Your Pets?

Valentine’s Day is coming soon and you’re probably on your computer or phone, trying to find something to get your loved ones. Naturally, you would think of getting chocolate for Valentine’s Day, but hold on! If you have a pet, make sure to hide the delicious goodies from them.

Chocolate lovers might wonder how your favorite treats can be dangerous for pet friends! If you’re the type of pawrentwho is worried about your pet eating chocolate, or you’re trying to figure out a way to take care of your pet after they’ve sneaked a bite, worry not! MyFriend is here to tell you what you can expect, and what to do if your pet consumes chocolate.

Is chocolate really toxic to dogs and cats? 

Yes, chocolate is dangerous to dogs and cats because of two substances: theobromine, and caffeine. Dogs and cats are very sensitive to these two chemicals because they cannot process them as fast as humans do. When your pet consumes chocolate, these toxin components will stay in their system for a long period of time, leading to chocolate poisoning. The severeness depends on their size and the amount of theobromine and caffeine in the chocolate they have consumed.

What are the signs of chocolate poisoning in pets? 

It may take up to 4-24 hours for your pet to show clinical signs after ingesting chocolate, depending on the size of the pet and the amount of chocolate in their system. For a small consumption of chocolate, common clinical signs include

  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive urination

When your pet eats a large amount of chocolate compared to their size, it can turn serious quickly—resulting in unwanted side effects such as muscle tremors, seizures, and heart failure among other horrible side effects.

What you can do if your pet ate chocolate

The first thing you should do after suspecting your pet ate chocolate is to contact the vet straight away! After that, you should try to find the information on the chocolate packaging. Inform your vet about the type of chocolate, how much your pet ate, and the approximate time of ingestion. *Especially if it is sugar-free chocolate, which can be even more dangerous because it has xylitol which can cause liver failure.

Treatment for chocolate poisoning

For most cases, inducing vomiting and preventing the absorption of theobromine is sufficient if treated early. After that, activating charcoal to slow down the process of resorption of theobromine might be done several times. Intravenous fluid therapy can also be provided to help stabilize a pet and get rid of the toxic components. There will also be other medications to treat other symptoms. Please go to the vet for the procedures mentioned above, unless your veterinarian suggests otherwise. Following the vet’s advice during times like these is crucial for your pet’s well-being.

We know those adorable faces are hard to say no to, but stay strong pawrent friends! Remember not to give them chocolate. Keep that chocolate out of paws’ reach and be extra careful of leftover treats on the table or the fallen ones!

This article is reviewed by the veterinarian from Small Animal Teaching Hospital, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University (CUVET)

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