Now that fall has officially begun, Halloween is around the corner, and holiday baking is in our future, I’d like to remind pet owners about the dangers of cats and dogs ingesting chocolate. We know you won’t willingly give your pets any candy or human treats, however, some dogs and cats have a sweet tooth and are attracted to eating these things, even if they are dangerous to them.
Chocolate contains both theobromine and caffeine, of which both can speed the heart rate and stimulate their nervous systems. The risk of becoming sick depends on the type, amount and weight of your pet. Knowing how much and what kind of chocolate your pet ate will determine how mild or serious the symptoms could be.
These types of chocolate are listed in order of theobromine content:
- Cocoa powder
- Unsweetened baker’s chocolate
- Semisweet chocolate
- Dark chocolate
- Milk chocolate
How much is too much? A very serious toxicity could result if your pet ate approximately one ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight. A Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar is 1.55 ounces, which doesn’t sound like a lot but can have serious consequences, especially for small dogs and cats. It takes less dark chocolate to cause toxicity than milk chocolate due to the theobromine content being higher.
Signs of chocolate poisoning usually occurs within 6-12 hours and symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, increased urination, tremors, elevated or abnormal heart rate, seizures, collapse and death.
So what do you do if you know your pet ingested chocolate? Call your veterinarian immediately! If they are closed, call one the following:
Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Tualatin: (503) 691-7922
Dove Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital: (503) 228-7281
Pet Poison Helpline: (855) 213-6680