Everything You Need to Know About Chocolate Toxicity in Pets
While most humans love chocolate, it’s not a safe treat to share with your dog or cat! Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which are toxic to our pets. They also absorb and break down the chocolate slower than people, so it can cause harm to your pets for days after ingestion depending on how much was eaten.Continue reading to learn more about chocolate toxicity in pets, and what to do if you think your dog or cat ate chocolate.
This article was written by a FirstVet vet
Did you know that FirstVet offers video calls with experienced vets? You can get a consultation within 30 minutes by downloading the FirstVet app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Types of Chocolate
There are 4 main types of chocolate, each containing different amounts of caffeine and theobromine:
- White chocolate
- Milk chocolate
- Dark chocolate
- Semi-sweet or Bakers chocolate
White and milk chocolates contain few potential toxins. Dark and bakers chocolates contain more caffeine and theobromine, making them more dangerous for your dog or cat.
Signs of Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs and Cats
Clinical symptoms depend on the amount and type of chocolate ingested. Some symptoms can take hours to develop. Here are the most common symptoms your pet may have:
The fat content in chocolate can also lead to pancreatitis, which can also be life-threatening. Common symptoms of pancreatitis include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. To learn more about pancreatitis in pets, check out this helpful link.
My pet ate chocolate, what do I do now?
If your dog or cat ingested chocolate, it’s important to know what type of chocolate (milk, dark, etc.) and how much may have been eaten. It’s always better to assume more was ingested if you aren’t sure.
Please set up a consult with us, call ASPCA Pet Poison Control, or try the online chocolate toxicity calculator to determine if your pet is at risk for severe illness. Remember, time is of the essence and your pet may need immediate help!
Treatment of Chocolate Toxicity
If your pet recently ingested chocolate, your vet may be able to make him vomit, reducing the amount of toxins absorbed into his system. Depending on how much time has passed since your pet ate chocolate, inducing vomiting may not be enough. Some pets will need to be hospitalized for 1-4 days on IV fluids, receive medications to control seizures and tremors, medications to help reduce further absorption of the toxins, and additional supportive care.
- Chocolate containing nuts: Some nuts, such as macadamia nuts, are also toxic to dogs. As few as 1-2 nuts per pound of body weight can cause additional toxicity.
For additional information on macadamia nut toxicity in dogs, follow this link.
- Marijuana chocolate edibles: The THC in marijuana can make it very hard for your pet to vomit. This means they are at risk for higher levels of toxin absorption. THC can also cause low blood pressure, urinary incontinence, and weakness.
For more information about marijuana and pets, follow this link.
- Baked chocolate treats containing artificial sweeteners: Some artificial sweeteners, like xylitol, are toxic to dogs. This sugar substitute can cause low blood sugar levels, weakness, collapse, and internal organ failure.
For more information about xylitol and other artificial sweeteners, follow this link.
Have more questions about chocolate toxicity in dogs and cats?
Schedule a video appointmentto speak with one of our vets.