The stores are filling with chocolate in preparation for Valentine’s Day but be careful to keep chocolate well hidden from your furry friends. Both cats and dogs are sensitive to a chemical in chocolate called theobromine. Theobromine is found in high concentrations in both dark chocolate and cocoa powder. The extent of the symptoms is directly related to the ingested dose. An animal that ate a white chocolate bar may have very few symptoms but the same amount of dark chocolate could be deadly. Similarly, one pound of chocolate is far more problematic than one ounce. Large animals also have to ingest a higher dose than a small one.
You should be aware of signs of toxicity just in case your pet begins to show symptoms before you notice your chocolate has gone missing.
Signs of toxicity include:
• Fast or irregular heart rate
• High temperature
If your dog or cat ingests chocolate these are the steps you should take:
• Try to determine how much chocolate was eaten and when it was eaten.
• Call your veterinarian and bring your animal in to be evaluated. Even if the dose is not fatal there are several unpleasant effects of theobromine poisoning that can be mitigated.
• If you still have the packaging of whatever your pet ate, save it and bring it with you.
• Call animal poison control and get a case number but still seek veterinary care immediately. Timely intervention is key to treating chocolate ingestion.
Chocolate is also high in fat and sugar so even small amounts can cause problems. Diarrhea and vomiting can result, and in some cases it can trigger an attack of pancreatitis. Prompt veterinary care can make a huge difference in the discomfort and danger your animal experiences.
If you have any questions or concerns, please give us a call!
Dulles South Animal Emergency and Referral Hospital
25067 Elk Lick Rd. South Riding, VA 20152
24hr Emergency Veterinary Services in the Dulles International Airport Area.
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